Indian agritech firm plans to tie up with UAE farmers
The UAE imports 90 per cent of its crops and India is one of the major sources
Indian startup DeHaat can help UAE farmers under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) programme to provide agricultural input and buy back the local food produce for various markets. DeHaat, with its technology-based platform, can offer end-to-end agricultural services to farmers, including distribution of high quality agri inputs, customised farm advisory, access to financial services and market linkages for selling their produce, says Javed Farooqui, CEO, Direct Information Technology and Dubai-based angel investor.
Started in 2012, DeHaat is a one-stop solution that incorporates an online marketplace alongside a rural network of service delivery centres, which together radically increase the profitability of farmers on the platform. At the same time, DeHaat brings transparency and efficiency across the entire agricultural value chain for B2B partners, including agri input companies, financial institutions and commodity bulk buyers.
Currently the startup has 72,000 plus farmers, connected through 120 centres (DeHaat), managed by Channel Partners across the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. In the coming year, it plans to deepen its network in Eastern India to reach 250,000 farmers supported by 550 DeHaat centres.
DeHaat has designed low cost services for farmers related to crop selection, soil test, distribution of quality inputs (seeds, fertilisers), crop monitoring, mobile based crop reminders and output marketing. These services are distributed to registered farmers through their block-based extension cum collection centres. With the aim of providing end-to-end solutions (right from field to market) to farmers, their team comprises of highly qualified and experienced personnel in the field of soil technology, horticulture, self-sustainable and need-based farming and organic farming.
Early investors in DeHaat include Javed Farooqui (Kaktag Agrotech) - Angel round. Recently it has raised over $4 million in pre series A funding from Omnivore, and AgFunder. Pankaj Chaddah, co-founder of Zomato, also invested in the round. It is planning to raise further $15 million in coming year to sustain its growth.
Jinesh Shah, managing partner of Omnivore, said: "Increasing the profitability of smallholder farmers is the most important priority in rural India, and DeHaat has developed a scalable, sustainable model for doing exactly that. Omnivore is thrilled to partner with DeHaat as they expand their network across Eastern India."
Similarly, Michael Dean, founding partner at AgFunder, said: "DeHaat team has built a platform that will continue to materially improve India's rural supply chain and deliver meaningful benefits to smallholder farmers." DeHaat is an ICT based physical centre - which brings all agri offerings for small farmers under one roof through network of local channel partners. It connects small farmers to their various needs - seeds, fertilisers, equipment, crop advisory and market linkage. Under this model, rural micro entrepreneurs are nurtured by providing them operational and ICT based technical support for last-mile delivery of end-to-end agricultural services. A DeHaat centre is a franchise unit which is operated by a local micro-entrepreneur, commonly called DeHaat coordinator.
Amrendra Kumar, senior manager, said: "I was always fascinated by complexities and possibilities of agriculture sector due to my family background in farming. Once I completed my education, I worked for rural services distribution company and there I came to know about the work being carried out by a group of individuals from premier academic institutions like IIT [Indian Institute of Technology] and IIM [Indian Institute of Management] in agriculture. Their philosophy of working with farmers for their entire agricultural needs throughout the year fascinated me and I decided to explore employment with them."
Current food import from India to the UAE is valued at about $1.7 billion and under current India-UAE food corridor it is expected to triple in coming years. Under the food security agreement, food crop producers like DeHaat can play major role to supply the food items into the cold storage that is being specifically built in India for storing food for the UAE. DeHaat can help the UAE in pursuing their food security strategy 2051 for ensuring a sustained supply of food items as a private entity to complement under the UAE-India food bank security agreement.
"The UAE imports 90 per cent of its crops and India is one of the major sources. It's a general global trend that consumers want to have improve quality and transparency in the food supply chain management and DeHaat is equipped to bring that transparency with our evolving technology for B2B partners, including agri input companies, financial institutions and commodity bulk buyers as well as end consumers will be able to track the source of the food item and the entire supply chain at every hop. The transparency will ensure the quality of food item is maintained," said Farooqui.
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