India currently hosts more than 450 startups in the agri-tech segment, and the sector has received more than USD 248 million funding in the first six months this year, IT industry body Nasscom said on Monday.

In a report titled 'Agritech in India – Emerging Trends in 2019', Nasscom said that growing at 25 per cent year-on-year, India currently hosts more than 450 startups in the agri-tech sector.

"Over the recent years, the agri-tech sector in India has witnessed some of the global and sector-focused funds directly investing in agri-tech startups ... As of June 2019, the sector has received more than USD 248 million funding, a massive growth of 300 per cent as compared to the previous year," it said.

Interestingly, every ninth agri-tech startup in the world is originating from India.

The report said there has been a 1.7-times increase in average farmer income in last decade, enabling farmers to try new tech solutions.

More than 50 per cent of agri-tech startups offer supply chain solutions like market linkage, better access to inputs etc.

"India's agriculture sector is advancing steadily towards its digital transformation and the startup ecosystem is playing a critical role here, bringing innovation and disruption in much-needed areas," Nasscom President Debjani Ghosh said.

Adoption of technology in agriculture has always needed a structured institutional focus and technology firms are trying to break into the agricultural landscape using newer business models, she added.

"The findings of the report are a testimony to the potential of the Agritech industry and the opportunities that India presents in the agriculture and farming landscape," Ghosh said. The report said Indian companies are increasingly looking at global markets to expand with focus on regions like Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa and South America.

According to the report, in the last five years more than five global agri-tech companies have ventured in India, as compared to more than 25 Indian agri-tech startups with global presence.

Also, new emerging areas like market linkage, digital agriculture, better access to inputs, FaaS (functions-as-a-service) and financing are attracting large traction.These technology adoptions are enabling numerous agri-tech startups to bring forth farming-related advanced technological mechanisms to help local farming become a sustainable and profit-yielding enterprise, it said.

The report pointed out that measures like setting up of micro-funds (ranging USD 2-14 million) to spur innovation, offering support in terms of incubation, acceleration, and catalytic funding, opening of incubation centres etc need to be implemented.

It is imperative that the ecosystem needs to focus towards driving innovation, data collaboration, easy working capital and providing digital infrastructure to enable real time access to farmers across the country.

Nasscom said it will continue its drive towards catalysing emerging tech startups, and work with the ecosystem to build category leaders and support startups to create not only for India, but also scale up and build for the world. PTI SR

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