For Israeli companies, it is a launchpad to pilot in, adapt to, and enter the Indian market. For Indian companies, it is access to new solutions from Israel.Rashi Varshney
Mumbai-based A&G Partners has launched an accelerator programme, called Agribator, in partnership with Noida-based EM3 Agri services. A&G Partners was started by Anat Bernstein Reich from Israel, and it helps startups from Israel set up shop in India.
Founded in 2014 by former Airtel CEO Rohtash Mal and his son Adwitiya Mal, EM3 Agri Services offers an entire range of global farm equipment — from laser-levelling machines, equipment for deep ploughing, and power harrows to make seed beds on a pay-per-use model.
The farmer-facing app allows for an intuitive, convenient, and easy way to order farm equipment and services, along with a built-in option of paying online. Anat calls Noida-based EM3 an ‘Uber for farmers’.
Agribator is touted to be the Indian centre for Israeli agritech firms and new-age offerings in this segment. The programme will provide agro technologies providers from Israel direct access to Indian agro companies and farmers. “For the Israeli companies, it is a launchpad to pilot in, adapt to, and enter the Indian market. For Indian companies, it access to new solutions from Israel,” Anat tells YourStory.
She adds that Agribator will save its members time, money, and mistakes common to newcomers in this market. “The Israeli office of the Agribator will screen companies and will accept only solutions that are relevant to the Indian market, and that are adaptable to the market’s needs,” she explains, adding that the accelerator programme is not just for startups, but also for established Israeli companies that have not ventured into the Indian market yet.
The acceleration programme is not time-bound but has plans of working with 10 startups in a year. Agriculture as a sector needs to adopt innovation to meet the growing needs by increasing productivity even as it keeps in mind the need for sustainable farming with limited resources.
Since farmers are the backbone of India with 70 percent of households still dependent on farming, the sector is increasingly looking towards agritech to increase productivity. Numerous startups are now bringing farming-related advanced technological mechanisms.
And there is plenty of investor interest in this segment now. According to YourStory Research, at least 13 agritech startups raised a total (disclosed amounts) of around $65.6 million in 2018, up over 21 percent from $54 million across 18 deals in 2017.
The Agribator programme was started this month, and has already on-boarded three startups. These include IoT-based SupPlant specialising in precision agriculture, and Biofeed that works with fruit fly technologies to develop patented pest-control technologies that do not harm human health or the environment. The programme is also looking to on-board hydroponic experts and organic solutions startups. Anat says they have in-house agronomists, demo farm for piloting technologies, and partners and advisors with knowledge and reach to the Indian agri sector.
Agribator has collaborated with various Indian companies working in the agri sector, such as Shriram Sugar, ITC, and Mahindra Agri, which brings scale to the startups coming from Israel. “We have also partnered with the Israeli Innovation Authority for technology collaboration and funding, and we have a few more partnerships in the pipeline to provide our members tools to succeed in the Indian market,” Anat says.
Funding, which is always an issue when startups are testing new waters, will also be on the table. “The Agribator will fund those pilots and adaptations that we believe have immense potential in India and just need a small push,” Anat adds.