Indian farmers are suffering due to insufficient irrigation systems, shrinking landholdings, erratic rainfall, rising farm production and management costs, and inadequate access to timely information, credit and markets.
However, with the advent of the mobile and digital revolution in this country, a slew of technology-based startups have emerged, offering technological solutions to some of the problems afflicting the agriculture sector.
Here is a list of five such start-ups that are looking to change the game for India’s farmers, offering farmers unique solutions to overcome some of the fundamental structural issues they face.
This is not a definitive list by any means but is representative of the emergence of tech-based agricultural startups in this sector.
To reduce the cost of farming for small-scale farmers and their labour requirement, engineer and business graduate Devi Murthy started a company called Kamal Kisan, which develops customised low-cost farm equipment based on their specific needs.
Her company has developed vegetable planters, power weeders, sugarcane planters, versatile mulch layers and bed makers, among other equipment. The response of those buying her products has been overwhelming.
This Bangalore-based startup has developed a technology-propelled supply chain to reduce the distance between what farmers grow on their land and retailers/merchants looking to buy their product.
The firm got rid of the middlemen stationed in our inefficient government-sanctioned mandis and has been able to increase the income of over 2500 farmers, while also reducing crop wastage. At present, NInjacart deals in over 14,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables, while reaping of about Rs 4 crore in revenue every month.
This Bangalore-based startup has developed sensors, among other products, that are used across farmlands in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to reduce the need for water while growing crops. These sensors, for example, allow farmers to observe moisture content levels and consequently spell out their irrigation requirements.
Reports indicate that these sensors have allowed affected farmers to improve their crop-yield by 15-20% while saving up to 25-30% of water.
Started by two engineers, this startup uses drones and innovative mapping technology to assess farmland. Using the thermal images taken by the drone, the firm develops actionable data which is then used to determine the state of the seeds, soil, cropping pattern, weather, water access, fertiliser use, and the presence of pests.
This Delhi-based startup is using hydroponics and vertical farming systems to grow residue-free fruits and vegetables without the requirement of soil, thereby revolutionising urban farming.
The entire exercise is water-based and steeped in rich nutrients. Across three locations, the startup has established more than 2 lakh square feet of hydroponic farms, producing more than 700 tonnes of fruits and vegetables.