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Pioneer Ventures, Syngenta Invest $3M in Agtech Startup FarmLink

November 8, 2017

FarmLink announced it has secured $3 million in funding from investment firm and incubator Pioneering Ventures and Swiss global agribusiness giant, Syngenta.

Launched three years ago in Mumbai, India, FarmLink focuses on the farm to fork supply chain of fresh produce in India, functioning as a facilitator of value-added fruits and vegetables which are sourced directly from farmers and delivers to both consumers and commercial scale buyers such as retail stores, supermarket chains, quick service restaurants, e-commerce food platforms and industrial processors. Through this process, FarmLink also provides farmers with a reliable long-term income generated from offtake agreements.

After launching its commercial operation last year, FarmLink has grown to include four collection/distribution centers across Maharashtra, Telangana, and Karnataka where it collects produce from more than 700 farmers who the company strives to provide with knowledge and extension services that will translate into more modern production practices, greater yields, and greater efficiency.

The company also is piloting FarmTrace – a new B2B analytic platform that enable customers to track produce from the farm to point of sale – a technology that greatly increases the level of transparency in the food supply chain.

“The idea is to get a full passcode of the product and track the entire process and transformation that the produce has gone through from farm-to-fork,” said Akshaya Kamath, director, Pioneering Ventures India. “We expect to go live with FarmTrace by the end of March 2018.”

With this funding, FarmLink is planning to boost its technology and analytics capabilities, with a future goal of building out a pan-India network of collection and service centers and in turn, achieving a four-to-five times growth in revenue by fiscal year 2018/19.

“There will be smaller satellite collection centres which will support the (existing four) mother distribution centres and they would be allied to the existing centres in south India,” noted Sreeram Chellappa, COO, FarmLink.

The company also is planning to build up the number of farmers engaged in its platform to 3,000, with up to half this number coming onboard in the next 12 months.

The socio-economic environment in India combined with growing domestic trends and macro drivers, make the emergence of agtech supply chain startups like FarmLink critical to the future growth of India’s ag sector and the prosperity of its farmers.

India currently ranks second in the world in terms of agricultural output, with 58 percent of the rural population relying on farming for their livelihoods, and agriculture accounting for more than $1.64 billion of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to a report issued by India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF).

The country’s agriculture sector also saw growth of nearly 100 percent between FY14 and FY15 with agricultural exports increasing from a value of $24.7 billion in 2011/12 to $32.08 billion in 2015/16, reflecting a growth rate of 6.75 percent.

Amid such a promising landscape, B2B agtech platforms such as FarmLink are on the front line for investors to seize the opportunity for return on investment that can be gained from streamlining and disrupting severely outdated supply chain systems in emerging markets.

In early October, another Indian fresh produce supply chain management and B2B agtech platform, Farm Taaza Produce Pvt, raised an $8 million Series A led by Hong Kong-based Epsilon Venture Partners and Tara Indian Fund IV.

The fruit and vegetable market in South India is worth more than $3 billion, but between 30 and 40 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables grown in India are lost due to spoilage due to highly disorganized supply chains with too many middlemen, according to the company. Farm Taaza is working to streamline these supply chains – informing farmers exactly what is needed based on demand, and therefore, allowing farmers to grow and sell their entire crop.  

Currently Farm Taaza engages with more than 1,400 farmers and supplies about 20 tons of produce per day to clients, including hospitals and hotels.

Other emerging markets are also ripe for agricultural supply chain disruption.

In August of this year Wamda Capital led a $10.3 million Series A for Kenya-based Twiga Foods. Much like Farm Taaza, Twiga is a disruptor of the food and ag supply chain that was launched with the goal of resolving the fragmentation in the produce market in order to generate value and returns for producers, vendors, and consumers. The round also included Omidyar Network, DOB Equity, Uqalo, 1776, Blue Haven Initiative, Alpha Mundi, and AHL.
-Lynda Kiernan 

Lynda Kiernan is Editor with GAI Media and daily contributor to GAI News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration, please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@globalaginvesting.com.

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