Telangana is home to a plethora of agritech start-ups which are working to empower farmers through the use of technology. As many as 57 such start-ups are based out in Hyderabad alone. Can these start-ups move the farming cart forward? To evaluate this, we need to understand what are the main issues, what kind of solutions the start-ups are offering and the impact generated.
Reaching the Grassroots
Every year, delayed or erratic monsoon keeps farmers on the edge. How much to grow, how to grow, when to grow; all these issues are being tackled through the power of data by start-ups in the way of predictive analytics and precise farming.
For instance, Hyderabad-based Niruthi Climate and Ecosystem Services uses data analytics to provide weather information and predict crop yields, hence reducing environment-related risks to marginal farmers. The start-up, backed by former NASA scientists, is serving over one million farmers and over 20 million hectares of cropland. Another start-up, Aapah Innovations, also provides similar GIS-based remote sensing and earth observation services and agricultural crop monitoring products.
Start-ups are fixing the problem of labour shortage or machine sourcing by providing farming-as-a-service. Hyderabad-based Ujjay and KhethiNext are providing farm inputs on subscription basis besides crop advisory. Farmers can use the same platform for selling produce, seeking farm advice, training, insurance and other services. Currently around 65,000 farmers are deriving benefits from the services of KhethiNext platform while 4.72 lakhs farmers are registered on its app.
As many as 500 farmers in Telangana are the early adopters of the ‘greenhouse in a box’ concept by start-up Kheyti. It provides an affordable, modular greenhouse bundled with full stack services that, as per claims, uses 90% less water, grows seven times more food and gives farmers a steady dependable income.
On similar lines, Cheruvu is providing precision agriculture solutions for each farmer by combining soil, weather, satellite imagery, and farming practices data. Around 3,600 farmers are associated with the start-up. There are also start-ups like Thanos and Marut Drones which are helping farmers by using drones to aerial spray the fields. This helps reduce input costs for the farmers, and also possibly improves the yield and soil health.
Telangana-based start-ups VillageAgro and Urbankisan are pushing ‘farm-fresh’ and ‘organic’ to cater this shifting demand. The result has been a big boost in rural farming.
A lot of start-ups are coming up in ancillary services which are seeing an uptick in the state as an alternate source of income for the farmers.
A Combined Effort
The state has identified agriculture as a priority sector and is focusing on developing AI-based solutions to benefit farmers and policymakers. While the government is supporting start-ups through incubation hubs and incentives, business models of start-ups are addressing the shortcomings of the government program by developing farmer-friendly communication methods through co-creation and continuous feedback.
What is in it for me?
Digital farming, micro irrigation solutions, distributed solar cloud storage, financial services are some of the areas of opportunity for start-ups to build on in the state. There is also a growing need for more technological tools to assist organic farmers and ancillary activities such as poultry, dairy, horticulture and aquaculture which is seeing an uptick in the state.
If you are a Telangana-based start-up, here is the list of incubators with details, to help you take the next leap.