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An ecosystem sprouts to take the chemicals out of Indian agriculture

Several funds and accelerators are supporting start-ups solving the problem of excessive pesticides in Indian farms, reports Tech in Asia

Nikita Peer / Tech in Asia 

An ecosystem sprouts to take the chemicals out of Indian agriculture

Agriculture in India is plagued by problems like ineffective water management and excessive use of inorganic material. Many start-ups have emerged in recent years to provide solutions to these issues. The ecosystem is also coming together to support these innovations.

Earlier this year, the Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) launched a food and agri-business accelerator in Ahmedabad. CIIE uses its Infuse Ventures fund to invest in agritech start-ups, and also launched a water innovation accelerator in July.

Some of the other agri-focused funds include Omnivore Partners, Aspada Investments, and Rural Agri Ventures. Livpure is India’s water tech-focused fund.

Seattle and Bengaluru-based Unitus Seed Fund is another firm that invests in start-ups that focus on building solutions for the masses. It announced the fund had led investment in VillFarm, a start-up that provides organic pesticides and fertilizers, as well as water saving technology.

The other investors in the round included Zurich-based Rianta Capital, Sify founder R Ramaraj, and non-resident Indians.

“Thanks to a subsidy-driven regulatory pricing regime, inorganic solutions have been over-used. This has resulted in compromises to crop-input efficiency, soil health, and the environment,” says VillFarm founder Sundarraj.

An ecosystem sprouts to take the chemicals out of Indian agriculture

Sundarraj finds there is a surge in demand for alternative organic products. It is one of the fastest growing agri-input segments. Presently, this demand is fulfilled by small local operators delivering products with inconsistent quality and limited applicability across regions and crop categories. VillFarm claims that its products are all organic and can be used across multiple soil types, crops, and crop life-cycles.

New technologies for producing cheap organic fertilizers and pesticides and solving irrigation issues are urgently needed. Rohini Nilekani, chairperson and founder of Arghyam Foundation, which grants funds to water tech firms, believes that anything that can help stem the deteriorating scenario is worth investing in.

This is an excerpt from Tech in Asia. You can read the full article here.

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First Published: Wed, September 23 2015. 13:32 IST