gun collaborating with state authorities to launch services and features focused on reaping revenues for themselves as well as for farmers.
Already benefitting from this as well as independent efforts by startups towards the same target are farmers like Vijay M. Revenues for the 30-year-old farmer in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh shot up after he was selected for agri-marketing platform Ninjacart’s programme that gives high productivity farmers an additional two or three acres of land to farm on.
“With the additional investment in new land, revenues have gone up by two-three times over the last few months alone despite utilising almost a similar amount of resources as for smaller areas,” said Vijay.
Ninjacart cofounder Thirukumaran Nagarajan said the company, which operates across Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, specifically selected farmers who would benefit from capital investment and farming expansion to increase their revenues. “Right now, this programme is at an experimental stage but we plan to launch this for more farmers (this financial year),” he said.
Several other agritech startups are working with state governments on similar farmer programmes.
DeHaat, a tech-based marketplace catering to about 35,000 farmers in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, has partnered with the Bihar government on state initiatives aimed at improving the livelihood of farmers.
“To achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ incomes, Bihar has released its ambitious Krishi Road Map 2022, which includes support for greenhouse farming, drip irrigation, issuing soil health cards to farmers, and promotion of high-value crops,” said founder Shashank Kumar. “We play a complementary role by enabling farmers to drop their soil samples at DeHaat centres and handing them their soil health cards a few days later. We also provide customized crop alerts.” The company is in talks with the Bihar government also for a collaboration focused on enabling mobile technology and opening up access to exhaustive crop pest database by government extension officers for improved crop monitoring and fieldlevel data collection.
The Telangana government, too, is partnering with agritech startups to address several thrust areas for enhancing and stabilizing farmer income. “We are partnering with startups for crop diversification and integrated farming systems, soil health management, reducing cost of cultivation through integrated nutrient and pest management, strengthening of farmers training institutions, development of crop colonies, and a series of other initiatives,” said Jayesh Ranjan, principal secretary in the Telangana government.
Other initiatives that will be included by the state government include a 75-100% subsidy for greenhouses provided by the department of horticulture to farmers.
In another similar collaboration, agritech food accelerator Gastrotope recently signed an agreement with the Andhra Pradesh government to create a farm-to-fork ecosystem in Visakhapatnam. Gastrotope aims to invest up to Rs 5 crore across 10 startups in India.
Jinesh Shah, founding partner at agritech venture capital firm Omnivore Capital, said state governments and startups should also focus on providing crop insurance to help farmers increase their incomes. “Farmers today do not even know if they are insured. Increasing production alone is not the answer,” he said.
Agritech startups in the country are also likely to establish a formal association this year or the next that would allow them to collaborate better with state governments, said Agrostar cofounder Shardul Sheth and other agritech entrepreneurs ET spoke. “As of now, it is an informal WhatsApp group of more than 100 startups, but you could see this turning into a formal association where you see goals and targets being discussed with government officials,” said Sheth.