Agritech Startup Harvesting Farmer Network has raised its first institutional funding round of $4 million from Silicon Valley-based Social Capital and angels Peggy Dulany Rockefeller and Elliott Donnelly.
The startup plans to use the funds to be used to grow its user base to 5 million by FY 2013. It also plans to hire for key roles, taking the total number of employees to 50 by the end of the year, and will make available offline centers, called Kisan Kendras or Seva Kendras, in every state in India.
The Chandigarh-based Harvesting Farmer Network was founded in 2016 by former Microsoft executive Ruchit Garg, It started its operations to connect farmers with financial institutions using their credit risk solution.
In 2020, amid the pandemic-induced lockdown and the need to digitize agriculture, the startup turned to the cooperative society-style agritech standard and launched a networking model.
“Through WhatsApp groups, farmers’ events and a toll-free number, Harvesting asks farmers to join its farming community. Within a designated geographical area, Harvesting appoints a ‘progressive’ farmer as ‘Sarath”, Garg said.
The startup said that as of August 2022, more than 3.7 million farmers are connected to the Harvesting Farmer Network (HFN), the startup’s farming community.
The startup claims that it has increased the crop income of its farmers by up to 2.5X due to HFN’s supply chain network and 25+ sevakendras. It has more than 5 thousand Saarthis leading its network in north-eastern states like Bihar, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Nagaland.
It has cataloged and sold 360 varieties of crops worth $500 million in domestic and international markets.
Jay Zaveri, Partner at Social Capital, said: “In our world of increasingly complex geopolitics and amidst a rapidly deteriorating climate crisis, there is an urgent need for increased and better food security. India is one of the bread baskets of the world and we’re excited to partner with HFN to bring a safe, secure, and empowering platform to the more than 120 million smallholder farmers across India. Our goal is to enable Indian households to access high-quality farm produce and for farmers to build a profitable livelihood through HFN.”
The app works for 60+ crop varieties, provides 8+ language support and some loan products and is running data-rich farmer cooperatives, Garg said.
It allows farmers to negotiate better rates for agricultural inputs and get a fair price label for their produce.
Through fundraising, the startup plans to expand its footprint across India and open at least one service center in each of the country’s 700+ districts, catering to over 5 million farmers by the end of the year.
About Harvesting Farmer Network
Harvesting Farmer Network, an initiative focused on providing market linkages to 120 million smallholder farmers in India. Its grassroots-level efforts combined with data & technology has already brought together 3.7 million farmers onto a single platform, with the goal to make smallholder farming profitable.
They provide a transparent mobile marketplace for smallholder farmers to sell their crops and buy tailor-made financial products & farm inputs. The digital platform is supported by physical centers owned & operated by farmers under HFN Banner, Digital platform for farmers involved in horticulture, poultry, livestock & fishery.