Company will utilize new capital to build a portfolio of proprietary agriculture input products and expand its distribution network
22 September, 2015. Bangalore, India: Unitus Ventures, India’s leading venture seed fund supporting startups innovating for the masses, announced that it has led a new investment round of capital in VillFarm, an Indian sustainable agri-inputs firm. Other investors in the round included Zurich-based Rianta Capital, angel investor R Ramaraj, founder of Sify and a group of non-resident impact and angel investors represented by Sunil Edwards. VillFarm is focused on bringing innovative and sustainable agricultural input products to India’s 200+ million farmers. The company will use the new funds to continue to build its product lines and to expand distribution across South India.
Organic and natural agri-input products are a fast growing segment in India
Nearly all of the India’s agri-inputs market today is dominated by domestic and international inorganic chemical-fertilizer and pesticide majors. Thanks to a subsidy-driven regulatory pricing regime, these inorganic solutions have been over-used resulting in compromises to crop-input efficiency, soil health and the environment. In response, there has been a surge in demand for alternative organic products making this one of the fastest growing agri-input segments. To date, this demand has largely been fulfilled by a host of small local operators delivering products with inconsistent quality and limited applicability across regions and crop categories. VillFarm’s products are all organic or natural, for application across multiple soil types, crops and crop life-cycles, and have significant field validation from farmers.
“There is a large potential to disrupt the agricultural sector by providing superior quality inputs that result in improved yields as well as farming sustainability,” said Dave Richards, Managing Partner at Unitus Ventures. “We believe that Villfarm is well-poised to develop a market leadership position in this growing segment
VillFarm launches new proprietary water-saving product- Water Bank
Drying up dams, poor rainfall for years in succession, and depleting water resources are common problems affecting farmers across India. In spite of the advances in irrigation technology, only about 35% of agricultural land in India is irrigated. Even slight scarcity of water impacts quality and quantity of farm output and limits farmers’ earning capacity. Severe water shortages or droughts of course lead to grave consequences such as parched or barren fields. PUSA Hydrogel, a unique polymer-based water management product, helps to conserve scarce water and release it over time. VillFarm has entered a strategic partnership with Carborundum Universal (CUMI), a Murugappa Group company, to market PUSA Hydrogel which is manufactures under license from IARI (Indian Agricultural Research Institute). Hydrogels are revolutionary moisture retention and slow release polymers that are entirely bio-degradable and have the potential to revolutionize water management in agriculture. Specifically, this is a product for water-stressed areas and is made of a highly absorbent polymer that absorbs large quantities of water (either by rainfall or irrigation) and releases water to plant roots slowly, on demand. VillFarm will market hydrogels under the label “Water Bank” and will offer proprietary sustainable agri-input products which combine biologicals and hydrogels.
VillFarm team is ready to scale-up distribution of its growing natural agri-product lines
VillFarm is led by a strong management team with deep expertize in agriculture, product development and channel management. Sundarraj Mahadevan, CEO, has been with many consumer goods companies in sales, brand and general management roles, while Jagadeesh Sunkad, CTO, has over two decades experience in product development and agriculture extension services.
“VillFarm is building a trusted brand of reliable, natural agriculture products that enhance farm yields while being safe for the soil and the farmer,” said Sundarraj Mahadevan, CEO of VillFarm. “And we’re doing this across multiple crops and through crop-lifecycles by providing simple, cost-effective solutions for farmers seeking to join the next green revolution in India.”
VillFarm Agrisolutions Private Limited offers a product line of high-performance agri-inputs addressing the high-growth market of sustainable agriculture products in India. These are premium, proprietary, organic agri-input products covering categories such land preparation, seed treatment, basal application, active growth flowering and fruiting, pest management and adjuvants to India’s progressive & committed farmers. VillFarm is based in Bangalore.
About Unitus Ventures
Unitus Ventures is the leading venture seed fund supporting startups innovating for the masses in India. Unitus invests in sectors including healthcare, education, mobile & consumer, retail & ecommerce, financial services and agriculture. Founded in 2012, Unitus Ventures is part of the Unitus Group, a premier financial services group operating in India and other emerging markets since 2000. Unitus Ventures is based in Bangalore and Seattle.