Indian agtech firm on a mission to empower small farmers raises US$30 million in funding

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DeHaat, a technology-based platform offering end-to-end agricultural services to farmers in India, has raised US$30 million in Series C funding, led by Prosus Ventures (formerly Naspers Ventures). RTP Global co-invested in the round with participation from existing investors, Sequoia India, FMO, Omnivore & AgFunder.

Based in Gurgaon and Patna, the DeHaat platform is a one-stop destination for small farmers for all their agricultural needs, including distribution of high-quality agricultural inputs, customized farm advisory, access to financial services, and market linkages for selling their produce.

Digital access

Currently operating across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha, DeHaat provides farmers with access to over 4,000 agricultural inputs, combined with AI-based customised crop advisory content of pest and disease management for major crops delivered via mobile app and call centers. The platform also aggregates corn, wheat, rice, bajra, fruits, and vegetables from farmers on its network and directly supplies to over 500 commodity bulk buyers, including retail chains, e-commerce players, FMCG giants, and SME food processors.

With an aim to aggregate 10 million Indian farmers while helping them to also increase their profitability, the platform integrates a digital marketplace with a rural network of last-mile service delivery centres and connects various agricultural companies with farmers.

Currently, around 75% of Indian farmers have less than one hectare of landholding and an average annual income of INR 50,000-70,000 (US$685-950). They often rely on multiple channels for their various needs – agri inputs (seed, fertilizer, crop protection), crop advisory, relevant information, farm equipment, credit, insurance and market linkage of farm produce.

DeHaat, which means ‘village’ in Hindi, is an ICT based platform that brings all these agri offerings for small farmers under one roof. Essentially, it is a farmers’ marketplace, connecting small farmers to suppliers such as DuPont, Syngenta, UPL, and Bayer, as well as access to institutional buyers like Cargill, Sabziwala, ITC, Spencer’s, Amrapali, Reliance Fresh and many more.

The 10-year-old startup has also developed a database of crop tests and uses artificial intelligence to provide farmers with free-of-cost personalized advisory on what they should sow in a season. DeHaat also helps farmers secure working capital through partnership with hundreds of institutional firms.

Rapid growth

DeHaat has experienced 3.5x annual growth over the past two years and has created a rural retail network of more than 1,300 DeHaat microentreprenuers for last mile delivery, serving more than 360,000 farmers located across Bihar, UP, Jharkhand and Odisha.

With a 60-member tech team, DeHaat has developed various web and mobile interfaces, which deliver 100% transparency to farmers regarding associated agricultural input companies as well as bulk buyers of agricultural produce. With the Series C investment, the company plans to strengthen the technology platform and expand geographically to other parts of India.

I am extremely proud that the DeHaat value proposition is very well demonstrated at a sizeable scale and that we are improving the livelihoods of Indian farmers and rural microentreprenuers with the help of technology,” said Shashank Kumar, co-founder & CEO, DeHaat. “The recent investment from marquee investors like Prosus Ventures, RTP Global and others is a strong validation of our goal to become the world’s largest farmer aggregator and will help us scale up in both size and scope.”

Prosus Ventures invests in industries around the world where innovation can significantly address big societal needs,” added Ashutosh Sharma, head of India Investments, Prosus Ventures.DeHaat is catering to a massive market in India with the agriculture sector worth more than $350 billion to the country’s economy and consisting of an estimated 140 million+ farmers. Through its end-to-end agricultural services offerings, DeHaat will have a major societal impact in India, improving the earning potential for Indian farmers and overall yield for the sector while also enabling microentrepreneurs all over the country, including in rural areas where there is often less income opportunity.”

Galina Chifina, Partner, RTP Global concluded: “We have been watching DeHaat for 18 months and have been impressed with the speed of development that the team is demonstrating. Agritech is exploding in India and DeHaat is building a unique infrastructure platform and is one of the only companies delivering an end-to-end solution for the farming community in India. It is a challenging market and Shashank and the team have the expertise needed to scale. We’re excited to be onboard and lend our support.”

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