Reaching the Finishing Line: Hurdles That Agritech Startups Face

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The rural economy has witnessed a growth of 10 per cent YoY over the last five years and has contributed close to half of the country’s overall GDP. It contributes to 16 per cent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 43 per cent of the Indian workforce.

Many startups are coming up with innovations, disruptive business models and pivots that can address the inefficiencies agricultural sector. From enhancing the adoption of sustainable cultivation practices to improving crop quality to re-designing the supply chain, agritech aims to remove pitfalls in the entire production and distribution phase and increase efficiency.

However, the path is not easy for startups. The pursuit of a streamlined agricultural sector is peppered with many roadblocks. Listed below are a few challenges that agritech startups face-

Pre-harvesting data: The agriculture industry is still largely operating on obsolete data and obsolete sowing patterns. Technological innovation and implementation to solve some of the major issues require current data information on sowing and pre-harvest activities. This is one of the major issues that agritech startups face. To cultivate farming communities that can easily adopt technology for information like weather alerts on phone, best practices on farming and advice on taking care of pest attacks, etc requires data that takes into account the current pre-harvesting conditions as well.

Lack of experts/mentors: One of the major issues that entrepreneurs face is a lack of mentors and experts. Farming and agriculture are yet to find their space in the urban landscape. Incubators especially for startups must have the competence and expertise to guide novice businesses. This includes the need for on-ground knowledge and not just statistics.

Limited understanding: Considering the unorganized nature of the sector, the uncertainties and the mammoth scale at which it operates, there is a lot of investor apathy when it comes to agri startups. The lack of understanding of urban investors who are mostly attuned to urban demands also often leads to hurdles for agritech startups seeking funding.

Government initiatives: The government has made changes in their policies for agriculture and is supporting the sector but there needs to be increased investment in the same. From bringing in the best technologies suited for our country to commissioning research and development, there need to be initiatives like Startup India, Skill in India etc that converge at the farm level.

Adoption of grassroots technology: Farming at the grassroots level is not yet adopted new technology to manage their farming cycle. This is majorly because a large number of farmers own a smartphone but their family uses it for other purposes. Therefore, introducing simple daily farming use-cases practices via extension activities and bringing about the change that agritech startups currently aiming for.

Market Connectivity: A major part of the agriculture value chain development must look into innovative ways of linking producers to end users. This is often a silo where startup founders face challenges. For agritech to streamline a lot of processes, the agritech supply chains need to be integrated value chains that enhance sales to companies or end users from independent farmers.

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