Immense Potential for Agritech Startups in India: FICCI-PwC Report

The Indian agritech sector holds potential to receive investments higher than $10 billion in the next 10 years, says an FICCI-PwC report. Launched at the “FICCI Summit & Awards for Innovations by Agri Startups”, the report highlighted the potential that the Indian agri startups hold.

It stated that while India has more than 600 agri startups attempting to solve challenges in the agri value chain, it only accounts for about one percent of the potential market opportunity of $24 billion. In spite of the pandemic affecting deal activity and investments throughout 2020, the agritech segment managed to double the investment and received more than $500 million in investments, as compared to $248 million in 2019.

The report also stated that the Indian Government has been showcasing its commitment to bring policy reforms in agriculture and allied sector and bolster the agri start-up ecosystem.

The third edition of the two day event was initiated on 9 February. The summit was aimed at providing
a platform to agri startups to showcase their projects implemented on a range of issues impacting Indian agriculture and the allied sector.

At the inaugural session of the summit, TR Kesavan, Chair, FICCI National Agriculture Committee, said that agri startups come up with brilliant ideas, but face issues in expansion. They require a proper system to expand in India. He said that it is time to unleash the potential of startups in this space as they are going to put the money back in farmers' hands.

Hemendra Mathur, Chair of FICCI Task Force, remarked that the next decade will the agri startups’ time to shine, with huge transformation in the food economy. He also added that a lot of collaboration is needed between startups and small and medium businesses in the segment.

The report also suggested a five point agenda aimed at attracting investments and building a robust agri start-up ecosystem.

Pacing development of an AgriStack: A nationwide single and unified digital agri database infrastructure could act as a one-stop solution and enabler for data requirements in the startup ecosystem. This, coupled with better data infrastructure, mobile literacy, and high-speed internet in rural India, will alleviate the infrastructure bottlenecks.

Ushering in entrepreneurship and incubation: Ecosystem-level support in the form of agri business incubation centres, right mentorship, and a mix of technological and managerial assistance would help agritech startups leapfrog in their business.

Co-creating through collaborations: There is a need to foster a win-win collaborative partnership between startups, farmer producer organisations, and micro, small, and medium enterprises to optimise profitability across value chains and ensure improved price realisation for small and marginal farmers.

Product innovation: Agri startups need to collaborate and engage actively with banking and insurance companies and introduce crop and region-based credit and insurance products (agri-fintech solutions) in such a manner that small and marginal farmers get encouraged to readily adopt climate-resilient solutions. Agri startups can also innovate and customise tech solutions for quality assaying, traceability, and food safety. Product innovation strategies can be executed successfully through continuous engagement between startups and the government, and other facilitators in the ecosystem.

Institutional support: To ensure requisite institutional support for agri startups, there is also a need for creating a dedicated agri startup cell at decentralized level to meet the requisite regulatory and ease of doing business requirements for startups.