COVID-19 and agritech in India

Like all other industries, India’s agriculture sector — the biggest contributor to the nation’s GDP — was faced with huge uncertainties after the coronavirus outbreak. Things worsened after the imposition of the nationwide lockdown on March 25. Food supply chains froze, farmers struggled to purchase inputs right ahead of the harvest season, access to marketplaces and mandis was limited, agri-logistics and transport systems were broken, post-harvest loss mounted, and the cost of unsold produce pinched farmer finances. All in all, the sector was in complete disarray.

“Unable to conduct business for weeks on end, agricultural traders and SMEs were the worst hit,” reveals a new report on India’s post-COVID-19 agritech landscape. A collaboration between Accel Partners and Omnivore (agritech-focused VC), the report indicates that despite the challenges faced by the agri sector, the “lockdown had the unintended consequence of accelerating the country’s up-and-coming agritech ecosystem”.

Almost all segments of agritech — farmer platforms, B2B agri marketplaces, rural fintech businesses, farm-to-consumer (F2C) brands, app-based agri advisories, and so on — witnessed impressive growth, triggered by the pandemic.

“Agritech startups, which for years had co-existed with the traditional ecosystem, suddenly discovered that they were essential. Ultimately, the pandemic helped catalyse a shift across the agricultural economy, away from traditional, informal, and analogue markets towards innovative, formal, and digital ones,” the report explains.

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