Boosting farm prosperity through investments in start-ups
Sr. Vice President of Farm Equipment Strategy and Head Krish-e
While Covid, understandably, has been the popular narrative over the last couple of years it is important to stay focused on the big goals outlined by the Government such as the inspiring goal of building a $5 trillion economy by FY25Rural India and agriculture in particular will be a key driver to achieve and in fact exceed this goal. According to the ministry of statistics, the agriculture sector’s contribution to GDP has risen from 17.6% in 2018-19, to over 20% in 2020-21.
Widespread adoption of modern agricultural practices such as science-based agronomy, mechanisation and digitisation will strengthen the sector and make it more resilient.
The $370 billion sector could well transform on the back of significant technology and regulatory changes, along with the emergence of several start-ups
With India’s digital ecosystem witnessing healthy tailwinds, high-speed internet and maturing digital content, it presents exciting opportunities for innovation in agriculture which leverages next generation technologies such as AI, ML, IoT and Software as a Service (SaaS).
The AgTech sector is abuzz with the increasing flow of growth capital into start-ups that play across the value chain from market linkage to financing to precision farming to mechanization services. But what will it take for start-ups to translate buzz and big valuations into meaningful on-ground impact that materially contribute to doubling farmer income?
Here are 5 pointers based on Mahindra and Mahindra’s experience with Krish-e, an in-house AgTech vertical focused on Farming as a Service.
- Show me the money
At Krish-e we focus relentlessly to ensure farmers and other adopters in the ecosystem see a positive impact on their income per acre and a rapid payback on their initial investment.
- B) Phygitize the model
On-ground advisory and rental solutions deployed on Krish-e Takneek plots (demonstration plots) create empirical evidence for farmers, build trust and local relationships and make physical transactions easier. Krish-e’s digital solutions meanwhile bring a unique set of insights and use cases for farmers and other stakeholders.
- C) Growth is good but beware of growth hacks
A good way to create a business for the long term is to ensure that all key activities genuinely address the big problems in Indian agriculture. This way short-cuts can be avoided. At Krish-e we anchor our efforts around delivering higher income for farmers for instance, Krish-e started with 10 Takneek plots a little over 2 years ago and today that has grown to 4000 live plots.
- D) Spin a partnership web
From our Krish-e experience it is best to work with and in a web of partnerships. We work closely with technology partners who bring expertise in remote sensing, imagery analytics, IOT and AI. Working closely with them we translate cutting edge technologies into farmer solutions quickly and frugally and to enable this we have in fact invested in 3 such start-ups.
- E) Offer integrated solutions
For start-ups like Krish-e, focused on helping farmers and B2B customers cultivate better and get more from an acre, it is vital to offer integrated solutions. It is our belief that start-ups who excel in delivering superior per acre outcomes for farmers will be better placed to attract partners from other players in the Agri value chain.