Since the green revolution of the 1960s, Indian agricultural industry hasn’t witnessed any major evolution. In present times, India is standing at the cusp of an impending Agri-tech revolution, following closely in the footsteps of ed-tech & fin-tech.
India currently is ranked the second-largest agricultural land worldwide. About 60% rural households within India earn their living through agriculture, offering great scope for the rise and growth of Agri-tech startups in the country. Research has revealed that the net total Agri-tech market will be nearly $24 Billion by the year 2025 while the market currently is placed at $204 million which constitutes 1% of the overall potential.
Challenges Facing Indian Agriculture
Agriculture in India is facing considerable challenges such as reducing agricultural land, increasing population, small-sized and highly-fragmented land holdings, poor quality seeds, lack of technology and mechanisation, lack of data and analytics, reliance on middlemen, and low yield per unit crop.
Additionally, the absence of unified marketplaces, insufficient transportation and storage facilities, malpractices in the unorganised agricultural markets, lack of organised credit and poor visibility with regards to pricing, market and so on are all shortcomings adversely affecting the Indian agricultural segment. The advanced technical knowledge employed globally, usage of data and analytics, mechanized farming and high-level R&D are missing from the ecosystem currently.
Role of Agritech Start-ups in Transforming Indian Agriculture
As of now, India has around 59 unicorn startups but not a single one in Agri-tech. Hence, this is where the real growth opportunity lies. Several Agri-tech startups are working in a variety of ways. They offer micro-level assistance on the ground such as soil analysis of a particular agricultural farm and even macro-level services like forecasting environmental impact using satellite images. Thus, Agri-tech players are effectively changing how agriculture is done traditionally across each level of the value chain.
New-age startups in the Agri-tech domain are also focusing on connecting physical markets through online marketplaces, wherein the farmers and processors can easily sell their products across India without the need of a physical presence. On offer are also services like logistics, secure payments and quality standardization. They have also adopted technology meant to enhance food traceability and sustainability in the agri-business.
The farm inputs segment is continuously integrating and blending latest technologies with physical infrastructure to offer better prices for farm inputs. Moreover, precision agriculture and farm management firms are helping farmers in improving their crop yields by 30 percent. Similarly, the key financial service companies are serving approximately 30 percent of farmer households by providing easy access to credit, and by providing access to crop insurance to nearly 65 percent of farmer families.
In 2020 alone, about 20 Agri-tech startups have collaboratively raised over Rs. 920 crores across venture debt, equity and conventional debt rounds.
Summing Up: Agri-Tech platforms- A blessing in disguise
The need of the hour is to address these issues and eliminate these road bumps with the help of advanced technologies including IoT, Big data, and AI/ML. This is essential not only to have a competitive edge in the market but also to create seamless trade channels and develop a unified level playing field for all B2B buyers and vendors across India.
In such a scenario, Agri-Tech platforms like TradeBridge provide tech-enabled solutions to vendors (Farmers, Processors, and Importers) and BUYERS: (Retailers, Kiranas, HORECA, Modern Trade, Consumer Brands & Wholesalers). They help bridge major gaps in the markets at all levels and provide a space where Agro-commodities are available for buying or selling at competitive pricing. They also offer services like logistics management, quality inspections, secure payments, returns, grievance redressals, credit extension, food traceability and sustainability, and insurance coverage pertaining to all major risks in the agri-business.
Agriculture in India so far has not been part of the tech revolution, despite being an industry which provides employment to almost half the country. However, we see the next decade being dominated by Agri-Tech Unicorns, which shall bring about a tectonic shift in the Agri ecosystem.