Agritech Startup transforms broken food cultivation by providing holistic solutions – Nurture.farm

By Srikanth
20 Min Read
Agritech Startup transforms broken food cultivation by providing holistic solutions - Nurture.farm 1

nurture.farm was founded in 2020 with the realization that farmers who provide food security for the world are left to deal with risks and uncertainty on their own. These farmers need more access to information, credit, technology, and market linkages. We aim to transform the fragmented and broken food cultivation industry by providing holistic solutions to these challenges.

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nurture.farm, India’s leading agri-tech open phygital platform, brings what every farmer needs to thrive together in one place—technology, solutions, and finance.

Our ecosystem reaches across the food system, expanding customer choice—making access transparent, affordable and fast for everyone. This way, nurture.farm lessens uncertainty, helping farmers secure sustainable outcomes.

nurture.farm’s mission is to make agriculture sustainable, resilient and profitable for generations to come through technology-led solutions.

USP of Nurture.farm

nurture.farm believes in nurturing a sustainable ecosystem throughout the farming life cycle. nurture.farm offers digital platforms, e-commerce marketplaces, advisory services, and financial solutions, ensuring sustainability becomes a key focus in farming practices.

What distinguishes nurture.farm from others is its unwavering commitment to fostering sustainability across the entire spectrum of farming activities and its strategic utilization of technology to enhance agricultural practices and cultivate a sense of resilience and profitability in farming.

Future and Expansion plans

In a short period, nurture.farm has made significant strides. We’ve onboarded over 2.60 million farmers through our app and expanded our B2B e-commerce marketplace, nurture.retail across 14 states with 100,000 registered agri-input retailers.

nurture.farm’s forward-looking vision involves harnessing the potential of cutting-edge technologies, such as AI, IoT, and satellite imaging, to advance the cause of sustainable farming practices. We will focus on delivering precision farming, improving farmer resilience, enhancing market accessibility, and providing upskilling opportunities. We plan to concentrate on profitable geographies and invest in sustainable programs and partnerships.

Other growth aspects include international expansion, consolidating predictive modelling, building universal advisory models that help farmers during cultivation, risk cover solutions that work globally, biosolutions, carbon solutions and capturing digital/traceable datasets for at least 50% of our active farmer base.

Challenges faced by the company

Farming depends on multiple variables like weather, pest & disease outbreaks, temperature, rain, humidity, soil quality, market fluctuations, etc., making it an unpredictable profession.

Furthermore, the soil type, accessibility to water, crop type, cultivation practices, access to markets, landholding, availability of land records, weather conditions, risks, input availability, yield quantity & quality inconsistencies, etc., varies not just at a state level but even at a cluster level.

Each crop requires a different set of solutions & subject matter expertise. It also needs to be tailored based on external factors like weather conditions, soil type, its susceptibility to pests & diseases.

A typical crop cycle consists of three stages

  • Pre-Growth
    • a) Pre-Sowing
    • b) Sowing
  • Growth
    • a) Growing
    • b) Harvesting
  • Post Harvest
    • a) Post Harvest
    • b) Market Linkage

The challenge is to create an ecosystem that allows us to deliver end-to-end assistance throughout the cultivation process on time to help farmers grow sustainably, optimize their input usage, improve acreage and yield quality, and provide access to them to ensure they get fair value.

The challenge on a state level is typically operation-led. Smallholder farmers cannot leverage the benefits of mechanization, as they aren’t open to changing their cultivation practices. Machines for different crops to automate the sowing/spraying process vary widely. Our crop models & disease prediction models need to be trained differently for varied crops & even for similar crops in different geographies.

Another challenge we run into is the digitization of land records. Despite the government’s best efforts, land records are only partially accurate or digitized across various states. We work with our field teams and leverage IoT devices and satellite data to verify each land record properly. So far, we have successfully validated more than 15% of the land record of the total 8 Million acres serviced.

Last but not least, the language, contextualization, and adaptation on a regional & cluster level by our field officers are paramount to building trust and driving adoption. For capacity-building efforts, our field teams consistently work with farmers to educate, train and empower them with technological know-how, building a community of advocates and champions who would continue to lead & drive the transformation at a grassroots level. This makes the entire ag-tech adoption a tedious, capital-intensive & operation-heavy process.

Company outlook three years from now

The agriculture industry is ripe for sustainability disruption. The focus areas where collaboration & work are being planned to scale our business in the next five years include:

  • Digital Transformation in Agriculture
  • Improving Accessibility to Mechanisation
  • Leading the transition to Sustainable and Natural Farming
  • Improving Access to Inputs
  • Solving for Last Mile Delivery

Digital Transformation in Agriculture

We will continue to drive digital transformation in agriculture by delivering mechanization services, advisory, soil testing, and enrollment of farmers for our sustainability programs. In addition to providing these services, we are digitizing farm & farmer records, building historical data at a farm & regional level, and mapping farmer credit scores (internally) to ultimately deliver access to capital for farmers.

We aim to onboard 10 Million farmers & service 50 million acres in the next 24- 36 months.

Improving Accessibility to Mechanisation

To improve the accessibility of mechanization – we are offering pre-book options at a time & date of their choosing. Furthermore, we plan to use geographic location to mobilize our nearest possible machines & operators to service the farm, helping us optimize cost, reduce TATs, and increase farmer satisfaction.

Transition to Sustainable and Natural Farming

The government has set aggressive targets to achieve its net zero goals by 2070 and wishes to reach 25% of these numbers by 2030. And the transition to sustainable or natural farming will play a critical role in helping achieve these targets. At nurture.farm, we will continue to work across various states to solve food security challenges, water optimization, reduction in GHG emissions, etc.

Our top sustainable programs are:

  • Shashwat Mithaas | Sustainable Sugar Program
  • Alternate Wetting & Drying/Direct Seeded Rice Initiative

Through our sustainable programs, we have impacted more than 3,00,000 farmers and made more than 1.15 million acres of land sustainable in Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka. We plan to increase the impact of our program by fivefold in the next 12 – 24 months.

Bringing predictability to farming

By leveraging data using satellite imaging, IoT devices, Drones & ground truth, we are building & training our AI models to predict yield, harvest date, pests & disease attacks, weather predictions & even commodity pricing.

We have already successfully created risk-cover products powered by AI that are automated & index-based to de-risk farm operations. Our Pest and disease models are being piloted to predict the onset of a disease at least 15 days in advance to help farmers take precautionary measures and minimize crop losses.

Improving Access to Inputs

We plan to offer access to inputs to the farmers based on their crop, soil parameters, geographical location, and cultivation stage. These input recommendations will factor in ground-truth data, satellite imaging, soil health, and acreage. Furthermore, we plan to offer guidance, training, and information around optimal input usage to each farmers at a grassroots level, helping improve soil wellness, yield quality, and acreage.

Solving for Last Mile Delivery

We are currently working with logistic partners to enable last-mile delivery of inputs. Furthermore, we have partnered with 100,000 retailers who work with us to ship the products to farmers’ doorstep or offer an option to collect their orders from nearby retailers.

Q6. How do you offer AI (artificial intelligence) enabled crop advisory to farmers

We recognize that to achieve this, we need to harness the potential of emerging technologies, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI). Tushar Trivedi, Head of Farm Mechanization & Farm Operations at nurture.farm, emphasizing the significance of adopting AI and emerging technologies for agriculture.

To deliver AI-enabled crop advisory, we adopt the following strategies:

  1. Digital Transformation: We believe in driving digital transformation at the grassroots level. This involves enabling farmers to access and leverage digital tools and platforms that AI powers. By doing so, we generate extensive datasets encompassing various crops and geographic regions, forming the foundation for AI-driven insights.
  2. Predictive Analytics: Through AI and machine learning models, we employ predictive analytics to eliminate variables and provide farmers with actionable insights. This empowers farmers to make informed decisions regarding crop management, irrigation, and pest control, ultimately leading to sustainable outcomes.
  3. Data Collection: AI-driven technologies, including drones, sensors, and satellites, play a pivotal role in data collection. For instance, Kisan Drones in India are used for crop assessments, land records, and insecticide spraying. This data-rich environment enables us to offer precise and timely advice to farmers.
  4. Adaptation to Climate Change: Given the impact of climate change on agricultural conditions, AI can recommend suitable crop varieties, irrigation strategies, and management practices that help farmers cope with changing environments. This adaptability is essential for resilience in agriculture.
  5. Supply Chain Optimization: AI technologies can optimize supply chains by predicting demand patterns, improving logistics, and reducing waste. This efficiency benefits both farmers and consumers.

However, it’s essential to acknowledge that the agricultural technology landscape in India is diverse, with over 1,000 agri-tech businesses offering various tech-based solutions. While these technologies hold significant potential to boost productivity and sustainability, they face challenges such as a disjointed technology infrastructure, high operational costs, limited data access, and a shortage of technical expertise.

How AgTech Firms are Changing the Farming Scenario in India?

Agtech firms are working on supply-chain downstream focussed on connecting farmers & businesses, or consumers. At the same time, others are concentrating on making agri-input accessible to the farmers in India by building a phygital model (Digital Commerce + Offline touch points). A handful are focused on driving digitization & adoption of precision farming practices and solving for market linkages. Some are sustainable first-leading innovations in bio-solutions, carbon solutions and climate-smart practices. Select few like nurture.farm offers end-to-end solutions for farmers from sowing to post-harvest.

The farming landscape is set to change with the adoption of technology, agronomy, mechanization, real-time advisory, and verifiability of ground truth. The Agtech will facilitate better decision-making, eliminate conventional farming, drive adoption towards good agricultural practices, reduce dependence on labour & retailers, open up market access for farmers, promise fair value for their produce to the farmers, help mitigate carbon emissions, build for farmer resilience, and deliver sustainable outcomes for all stakeholders associated with the agri-ecosystem.

What are the key challenges and needs of the new-age farmers in India?

Smallholder farmers own 470 million farms out of 570 million farms worldwide. These smallholders either don’t have the capital, lack the skills to use technology, or are unaware of the solutions available to help them farm better and drive profitability.

  • – More than 70% of the farmers worldwide need access to proper capital.
  • – 2/3rd of the farmers struggle to use technology
  • – More than 50% of the farmers are unaware of the existing solutions.

We must collaborate to educate, train, and scale our efforts to deliver the benefits of digitalization, artificial intelligence, farm mechanization, and machine learning to the farmers.

Additionally, the spectre of climate change looms ominously, casting a shadow of uncertainty over agricultural practices. The imperatives of sustainability further complicate the landscape, necessitating innovative solutions.

We need to open up the ag ecosystem by enabling more public-private partnerships, private research institute partnerships, collaborating to solve data challenges and partnering with government bodies to build knowledge repositories as a single source of truth.

We need to invest in building location-agnostic AI models, opening doors for cross-compatibility between devices, coherent & inclusive agriculture policies, and support to build a network of digital transformation enablers, advisors and experts that work with farmers on the ground level. These enablers will help them upskill, engage with them, solve their queries, offer advisory, and ensure good agricultural practices get followed during cultivation.

Ensuring digital adoption, enabling smallholders with the know-how, and fostering shared economy models at scale will allow us to leverage ICT, Blockchain, IoT, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine learning. We will be able to deliver impact and solve the planet’s problems, farmers’ issues, the issues of the consumers, and each stakeholder across the value chain, helping build an agri-ecosystem that’s viable, self-sufficient and sustainable.

How will the agriculture industry in India shape up in 2024 and beyond?

The agriculture industry is at the cusp of a change. Change is evolving, gradual and transformational. But most of all, it has to be inclusive for change to take effect.

We have taken a giant leap in building technologies to help solve the problems across the agri-value chain, covering pre-sowing, sowing, cultivation, harvest, and post-harvest stages. As we move into 2024, digitization, mechanization, and e-commerce will continue to be the first platforms/technologies that will be adopted & embraced by the larger farming community.

Most ag-tech startups focus on geo-fencing, farmer data collection, land record digitization, predictive modelling, machine learning, soil health improvement, carbon mitigation and ground truth. The foray into each of these will lead to adopting sustainable farming practices, opening up access to capital for farmers, building for their resilience, and making agri-outcomes predictable & sustainable by minimizing crop losses.

In essence, the agriculture industry in India is poised for a paradigm shift in 2024 and beyond. The convergence of next-gen technologies and a commitment to sustainability will revolutionize farming practices, making them more efficient, resilient, and environmentally responsible.

How will the next-gen technologies in the agriculture sector boost industrial growth?

Transformative technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) can potentially increase agricultural productivity to unprecedented levels. AI’s data-driven decision-making capabilities give farmers precise insights into crop management, enabling them to optimize planting, irrigation, and pest control. The result is higher crop yields and resource efficiency, contributing significantly to industrial growth.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices, coupled with AI, facilitate real-time monitoring of agricultural operations. These sensors and actuators provide granular data on soil moisture, weather conditions, and crop health, helping farmers make informed choices in real time.

Satellite imaging and remote sensing technologies offer a macroscopic view of agricultural landscapes. AI processes the data generated by these technologies to identify trends, predict crop health, and even detect early signs of pest infestations or diseases. This proactive approach not only safeguards crop yields but also reduces input costs, bolstering the economic viability of agriculture.

Furthermore, AI-driven technologies optimize supply chains by predicting demand patterns, improving logistics, and minimizing wastage. This efficiency permeates the entire agricultural ecosystem, from production to distribution, resulting in cost savings and industrial growth.

In summation, next-gen technologies in agriculture constitute a game-changing force that boosts industrial growth by significantly increasing productivity, reducing resource wastage, and enhancing the overall efficiency of the agricultural sector.

How does AI in agriculture empower farmers to transform their day-to-day agricultural practices?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in agriculture is a transformative force that allows farmers to reimagine and optimize their daily practices. This empowerment hinges on several critical mechanisms rooted in data-driven decision-making and precision agriculture:

  1. Data-Driven Insights: AI processes vast datasets encompassing weather patterns, soil conditions, and crop health. By analyzing this data, AI generates actionable insights for farmers. These insights inform decisions on planting, irrigation, fertilization, and pest control, resulting in more efficient resource utilization and improved crop yields.
  2. Precision Farming: AI enables precision farming, wherein farmers can tailor their practices to the unique needs of each crop and field. This involves the application of inputs, such as water and fertilizers, in precise quantities and at the right time. As a result, resource wastage is minimized.
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