Home >Companies >Start-ups >Agritech sector gains during covid-19 crisis

New Delhi: The agritech sector has seen sharp growth during the covid-19 pandemic. Investments from venture capital firms in agritech startups are expected to exceed $500 million in the next two years as many have come together to help farmers connect with buyers, automate supply chains and build the next layer of data analytics to drive further supply chain efficiency.

The sector has also created plenty of buzz, according to data from a new report, with the agritech index moving from 43 in March to 156 in May 2020.

Factors such as locusts attack, venture funding and investments, and the economic stimulus on agriculture contributed to this sudden uptick in popularity, according to the Wizikey Agritech report that analysed a million plus news articles.

Top newsmakers associated with the term agritech include Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, beside sector-experts like Mark Kahn of VC firm Omnivore.

The Wizikey report titled ‘Buzz Word Analysis 2020 - Before covid-19 to after covid-19', underlines the top news making trends in the Indian agritech industry. The study also analyses the overall industry sentiments before and after the covid period.

Indian agritech startups are supporting the agricultural ecosystem in maximizing productivity, increasing supply chain efficiency, and improving market linkages. Due to the increase in demand for such solutions in the market, sentiment towards the agritech industry has been mostly neutral, and during March-May, it has seen a surge in positive sentiment.

The report identifies Ninjacart, India's largest tech-driven supply chain platform, as having created the most buzz in India.

This is because of NinjaCart's new initiative that helps farmers struggling to find buyers for their fresh produce, to directly sell to consumers.

With the new initiative—Harvest the Farms— Ninjacart will identify vegetables that are in excess supply, as well as those that are going un-harvested within their farmer networks. The startup plans to buy this excess produce directly from the farmers, to aid them in recovering their investments.

Ninjacart was followed by Dehaat and Jumbotail.

Despite covid-related issues, agritech is a segment which continues to see tailwinds. Large VCs including Sequoia, Accel, Tiger Global, Qualcomm, Nexus, Bertelsmann and Lightbox have become active, drawn by the possibilities opening up with smartphone usage in India’s massive agrarian sector.

No wonder many of the agritech startups like Clover and Bijak have also managed to raise funding during the covid period. Clover raised 7 crore in May from Alteria Capital while in April, both Bijak and DeHaat raised $12 million in series A funding round.

“Indian agriculture is an over $350B industry powered by close to 100 million small and independent farmers. This industry is on the brink of a massive transformation with ease of regulation, famers getting organized and increasing smart phone penetration and DeHaat is leveraging these trends to build the next-gen product in agricultural supply chain", said Abhishek Mohan, vice-president at Sequoia Capital India Llp who led the funding round.

As per a 2019 Nasscom report, India is home to more than 450 agritech startups, growing at a rate of 25 percent year-on-year.

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