Agritech startup, Fasal, raised seed funding of $1.6 Mn led by Omnivore and Wavemaker Partners. The IoT-SaaS platform will use the funding to build AI capabilities for each horticulture value chain where the company is focused.
“We are going to expand our B2B sales force, engineering and product teams, which will partner with aggregators, exporters, and processors in each horticulture value chain to access their networks of farmers. Very shortly, we plan to launch a low-cost and instantly installable version of our field sensor array. The long term plan is to be an end-to-end platform for horticulture,” said cofounder and CEO of Fasal Ananda Prakash Verma, while talking to Inc42.
Other investors participating in the round include Mount Parker Ventures and Animoca from Hong Kong and Mistletoe from Japan, via their Gastrotope accelerator. Existing investors Zeroth and Artesian Ventures from Australia also participated in the round.
Based out of Bengaluru, Fasal is an AI-powered IoT-SaaS platform for horticulture, which captures real-time data on growing conditions from on-farm sensors and delivers farm-specific, crop-specific actionable advisories to farmers via mobile in vernacular languages.
“We are on a mission to help horticulture farmers make data-driven, logical decisions and shift farming to autopilot mode. We will become a full-stack platform for horticulture farmers, and we are excited to partner with Omnivore and Wavemaker to help make that happen,” said Verma.
Founded in 2018 by Verma and Shailendra Tiwari, the startup’s field sensor array can be installed by farmers in less than 15 minutes and measures multiple dynamic variables, including micro-climate, soil, and crop conditions. Fasal leverages machine learning to transform this field sensor data into farm-level predictions, anticipating various risks while helping horticulture farmers to reduce input costs by optimising crop protection, irrigation, and crop nutrition.
Some of the horticulture value chains where the precision agriculture startup is currently working include grapes, pomegranate, mango, citrus, tea, coffee, and chili. Fasal is presently operating in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh, but it has plans to expand pan-India and also enter select markets across Southeast Asia.
Growing Investor Interest In Agritech Sector
According to a National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) report, India’s agritech sector has received more than $248 Mn funding as of June 2019, scaling up almost 300% as compared to last year. There are more than 450 startups in the agritech sector, says the report.
A 2018 report from Datalabs by Inc42 showed that the total funding in agritech startups in India has grown from $46.1 Mn (INR 320 Cr) 2017 to $66.6 Mn (INR 463 Cr) in 2018. Farmers are increasingly accepting innovative startup solutions to improve their profitability, sustainability, and resilience.
Indian companies are looking at global expansion as well. The interest in agritech startup industry comes at a time when the agriculture sector is undergoing distress in terms of high price volatility and unpredictable weather conditions.