Farming 3.0: India’s Mission Agritech
Once least favoured, agritech is today betted as one of the most resilient sectors. The pandemic has further pushed farmers to leverage technology offered by the startups in the space, thereby making the sector a hotspot of investments. Is India’s agritech on the brink of a permanent transformation or the newly-found success a passing cloud? This playbook explores!
For 52-year-old Shailendra Singh, a small farmer residing in the Keshouri village in Bihar’s Nawada district, the biggest challenge in his profession was uncertainty. Not just uncertain weather conditions that could impact his crops but something as essential as getting a tractor on time before it would be too late to plough.
Singh had been saving a little money every year but not enough to fund a tractor. Finding the workforce to operate the machine was also an expensive and tedious affair. So, he had to depend on local agents to rent one, along with operators. The downside: There was never a guarantee that the tractor would reach his farm on time. “Two years ago, I got the tractor five days later than scheduled. By then, the land was not worth ploughing and I had a loss of around INR 20K,” he recalls.
The scenario has improved today. Singh still gets a tractor on rent, but now he knows there will be no delay. The reason: he no longer depends on local agents from the unorganised renting sector; he rents it from Agrix, an early-stage startup that guarantees timely delivery and an expert driver to do the job. The farmer is still not familiar with the operations, but he can easily reach out to the company’s village representative for any help in terms of payment and booking.
Just like Singh, many farmers across various Indian states are reaching out to agritech startups which rent tractors, ground-leveling and deep-ploughing equipment and power harrows. Startups operating in the Farming-as-a-Service (FaaS) sub-segment include the likes of EM3 Agri Services, BigHaat and Krishify, and they have been addressing the inefficiencies across the supply chain, including lack of farm mechanisation, crop advisory and access to markets.