Mahin­dra Sees a Bumper Har­vest in Agri Tech Cos

Till­ing the Land

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech - Supraja.Srini­vasan @times­group.com

Mum­bai: The farms-to-fi­nan­cials con­glom­er­ate, Mahin­dra Group, is all set to deepen its startup dreams in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor as it looks to don the hat of an ac­tive in­vestor in the space. The sec­tor is ex­pected to close many deals this year on the back of ris­ing in­vestor in­ter­est. “There are 3-4 com­pa­nies that we are in talks with at var­i­ous lev­els of ma­tu­rity when it comes to pos­si­ble in­vest­ments. In 2017, we should be able to close some in­vest­ments,” said Ashok Sharma, pres­i­dent of the Agri Busi­ness at Mahin­dra, while de­clin­ing to name the com­pa­nies the group is con­sid­er­ing in­vest­ments in. The Mahin­dra Group in­vested $1 mil­lion in Mer­aKisan — a startup that sources fresh veg­eta­bles and fruits di­rectly from farm­ers and sells them to cus­tomers — in Septem­ber last year. The up­com­ing in­vest­ments too, are likely to be in the range of $1-5 mil­lion. The Mahin­dra Group is also con­sid­er­ing co-in­vest­ing or col­lab­o­rat­ing with other ven­ture cap­i­tal funds for big­ger cheques in the space. “We would be open to in­vest­ing along with ven­ture cap­i­tal funds if a hig-

Mahin­dra Group

is ac­tively work­ing in the agri tech space to grow its startup dreams

Group has

launched agri ad­vi­sory plat­form MyA­griGuru

net­work via pro­mo­tions within its own distri­bu­tion net­work

en­hance

her ticket size is re­quired. As a com­pany grows and looks for the next round of fund­ing (Se­ries A on­wards), we could eval­u­ate if we should get an­other fund on board,” Sharma told ET.

But in­vest­ment apart, the group is ac­tively work­ing in the agri tech space to har­bour its startup dreams. The group has launched MyA­griGuru, an agri­cul­tural ad­vi­sory plat­form that helps farm­ers man­age their crops by pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion on weather, pric­ing, etc.

“We cur­rently have 10 crops on the app and have tied up with the In­dia Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal De­part­ment (IMD) for weather fore­cast for a five-day pe­riod, and also with com­mod­ity ex­change NCDEX for prices of the

to be added soon

guages

in Hindi and English pro­duce,” Sharma told ET. The app con­nects var­i­ous man­dis (mar­kets) across the coun­try and helps farm­ers com­pare prices and en­sure the best price avail­able across states. MyA­griGuru is the con­glom­er­ate’s sec­ond out­ing in the agri tech space af­ter it launched Tr­ringo, an on­line plat­form which al­lows farm­ers to rent trac­tors and other mech­a­nised farm equip­ment, last year. One of the key as­pects of the app is the ‘Char­cha’ or the chat fea­ture which al­lows farm­ers to post is­sues or queries re­gard­ing their crops and has them an­swered by agri ex­perts on the plat­form that in­clude pro­fes­sors, se­nior farm­ers, and in­dus­try vet­er­ans, among oth­ers.

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