Agritech Players Look At This Pandemic As An Opportunity To Grow and Collaborate In an online conference by Entrepreneur India, five individuals shared their thoughts about how the agritech space has been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak, and discussed ways to revamp the market.

By Debarghya Sil

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The outbreak of Coronavirus in India followed by a nationwide lockdown has left businesses across the sector scrambling to find ways to remain afloat. While several businesses have shuttered, agritech players are seeing this pandemic as an opportunity to thrive.

In an online conference by Entrepreneur India, five individuals in the agritech space share their thoughts on this outbreak and explain ways to revamp the market.

Prasanna Rao, Managing Director, Arya

Return Of Migrant Labourers Is A Huge Opportunity

Commenting on lakhs of migrant labourers returning to their home state, Rao said, "We need to utilise these skilled labourers to benefit the operation that is taking place at a ground level."

Explaining further, he said that over the past two months, in the post-harvesting sector, many warehouses, and markets were unable to operate due to lack of labourers. According to him, agritech, under the current circumstances, should inculcate formalisation of distributed agriculture chain.

"I feel there is huge potential of agritech players working together in coming days," he said, adding, "somebody working in the post-harvesting side can tie up with a player in pre -harvesting side which will result in the whole process being streamlined, thus creating more opportunity."

Milan Sharma, Co-founder and CEO, Intello Labs

Discovery Of Produce To Be Made Digitally

According to Sharma, restriction of movement due to the nationwide lockdown has resulted in a shift towards the digital discovery of produce. He believes that earlier what was done at a ground level, should be done digitally in the post COVID-19 era.

Agreeing with Arya's Rao, he said, "The crisis has given a great opportunity in automating processes across the supply chain along with connecting different players working in it. This will help different players working in isolation to come up with more solutions during this crisis."

He believes collaborations will give a good direction to digitisation and automation in this sector to enable the farm to fork in a more effective way.

Karthik Jayaraman, Co-founder and CEO, WayCool Foods

Most Efficient Player Will Win

Jayaraman believes there should be multifold creation of supply chain options for the farmers to liquidate their products.

"Efficiency of an agritech player will be determined on the smoothest way it engages with the farmers flanked with a solution-oriented transporter," he said..

According to him, in this digital era players have to develop user-friendly platforms which the farmers can easily grasp. Commenting on consolidated buyers, Jayaraman said India lacks in consolidating buyers.

However, in the future, he believes consolidating buying will emerge in the country and exports will rise which will open the gates for a host of consolidating services, allowing agritech players to enter.

Kunal Prasad, Co-founder and COO, CropIn

Migrant Labour Can Become Agropreneur

During the lockdown value chain players are unaware of the situation at the ground level, leading to massive losses. Stressing on the need for digital platforms in this sector, Kunal said that once the information from the ground level reaches value players, they can chip in to prevent further losses.

Giving an example, he said, "Once the information is received, a bank can approach and finance the farmer, or an insurance company can rush in to insure the farmer's crop."

According to him, states which are witnessing lack of labours will rely on technology and opt for automation, whereas the states which are inundated with migrant labours will see a rise in farmer producer organisations.

He believes agritech companies should look at co-sharing models.

Sandeep Singhal, Co-founder and Managing Director, Nexus Venture Partners

Commercial Investments Will Rise In Indian Agritech Space

According to Singhal, agritech players first needed to understand farmer economics. He believes that the new age entrepreneurs will think of farmers as a unit of producers.

From an investor's perspective, he said that there are few investors in this market because it is a regulated market. However, now there is a gradual change among the investors and they are more open to funding because of new models.

Due to the vast opportunity, Sandeep believes that agritech startups have the potential to become unicorns. "There is an opportunity to take Indian farmers and provide the market linkage which will create a larger business that might be worth a unicorn.
Debarghya Sil

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Correspondent

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