Agritech: Agritech during COVID-19: Has it lived up to the hype?

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The Indian agtech sector is registering fast-track growth in the ongoing pandemic thanks to the supportive reforms and initiatives announced by the government coupled with growing digital access to the farmers.

Interestingly, agriculture in India fared really well despite a brief disruption of supply chain and labour shortage faced during the lockdown. After the initial setback, the agtech sector stabilised and churn volume-based business.

According to the National Statistical Office’s latest estimates, agriculture is the only sector to have reported a positive growth during the June quarter, despite a 23.9% contraction in the national GDP. Even in the Q2 GDP numbers unveiled on Friday, agriculture has grown by over 3 compared to last year. In monetary terms, this sector has added Rs 14,815 crore in the first three fiscal months itself. In fact, agriculture has attracted huge private investments between July-August 2020.

As per projections, the agtech sector is likely to receive an influx of at least $500 million in the next two years. According to Maple Capital Advisors, during the first half of 2020, investors have pumped $84 million in to different agtech firms. With nearly 450 agtech startups in India that are growing steadily at 25% yearly, according to FICCI estimates, many businesses are already gearing up for subsequent funding rounds.

Even the agriculture ministry has confirmed it would fund 234 more agri businesses, which depicts the huge scalability potential of the sector. A total funding of Rs 24.85 crore under a central scheme will go to the agriculture and the allied sector businesses.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, agtech businesses are playing a crucial role by bringing innovation backed by technology, and solving critical challenges that are hampering the growth of the farming community.

Agtech firms in India are using IoT to monitor crops, weather, and soil quality, which in turn will boost quality yield while others are making use of emergent technologies to improve farm to fork linkages, connect with buyers across different markets, automate and streamline supply chains and build platforms for instant cash settlements. Farmers are now being empowered in terms of access to information, inputs and financial support.

All this proves the agtech sector’s promising growth and will play a significant role in its contribution towards the national economy. Even the Indian government has proffered its full support and determined to take agriculture to new heights.

With India ranking second globally in agricultural production, agtech companies will play a vital role in supporting the agriculture eco-system via maximising productivity, help grow exports to $100 billion and double income of farmers by 2022. This sector will see an upward growth trend, and it’s safe to conclude that agtech firms have lived up to its hype.

(
The writer is CEO of Agri10x, a Pune-based agtech company focused on tech enablement in the agricultural sector)



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