There are encouraging opportunities for Indian and Israel to collaborate in the agri-tech sector given the expertise of Israeli innovation and India’s huge market and potential for growth, according to a report compiled by Start-Up Nation Central and Wikistrat.
The report looks at India’s growing agricultural challenges which can find answers through Israel’s growing agri-tech solutions.
India’s $ 4 billion hybrid seed market is expected to grow 15 % annually in the period of 2016-2020 with major corporations like Nuziveedu Seeds, Monsanto, Bayer India and Dupont engaged in R&D, and producing many all-season hybrid seed varieties both for field and horticultural crops.
However, supply shortages in seed production for many vegetables and high nutrient foods (oats, strawberries, color capsicums, etc.) as well as disparity in the regional distributions of certain seeds are major impediments to the steady supply of quality hybrid seeds in India. Seed varieties suitable for flat land and hill topography, and heat resistant seeds for cereals, pulses and millet have yet to be developed.
Israel is well known for its expertise in hybrid seeds, particularly ones apt for varied climatic conditions and having long shelf life. Israel startups and companies working in the area of breeding, developing and producing high-quality seed varieties include Agreen Seeds, OriGene Seeds, Top Seeds, NRGene, Hazera, Kaiima and Evogene.
India is one of the largest producers and consumers of chemical pesticides. However, there are public health concerns related to inordinate use of toxic pesticides coupled with the growing appeal of organic farming. Hence, the demand for biological pesticides is growing. India currently has over 140 bio-pesticide production units meeting the demands of less than 1 % of farmers.
Israeli bio-pesticide solutions provided by Stockton Group’s Timorex Gold, Bio Bee, Botanocap, BioFeed, Agro Shelef and ARO’s Tamar Tech can help India in adopting productivity-enhancing bio-pesticide alternatives. Additionally, it will reduce India’s dependency on chemical pesticides.
Comprehensive Irrigation, Fertigation and Chemigation Solutions
Water scarcity, inefficient distribution and management of water resources, heavy dependence of rainfall and ineffective irrigation are all roadblocks in the way of food production in India. India has only utilized 10 % of the 40 million
The micro-irrigation potential of India is 40 million hectares, of which only 10% has been utilized.
Despite having over 200 players in the irrigation technology industry, only a few offer comprehensive solutions that include irrigation, fertigation and chemigation solutions, including credit and insurance.
Although Israel is a leader in drip and integrated irrigation systems, India’s Jain Irrigation Systems has a sizeable 55% market share. Netafim, NaanDan (fully owned by Jain Irrigation), Rivulis and Metzerplas are the four Israeli firms present in India in the drip and micro-emitter irrigation segment. Moreover, Israeli startups like I-dripper, Tevatronic, Amiad, Inplant and Tal-Ya can also provide relevant solutions to India.
The farm machinery market in India is expected to grow 8% in the period of 2015-2019. Yet, the poorly performing existing machinery products, including its limited distribution networks, impede farm productivity. Most farmers use traditional basic equipments.
Timely and economical use of farm machinery, such as inter-cultivation tools, land levelers, planting implements, blade harrows, broad bed furrows and vacuum planters can greatly enhance farm productivity, and maximize yield and profits.
Israeli companies can offer eco-friendly and effective farm implements, harvesters and crop residue management services to India. Israeli startups offering these services include Etgar and YungEtgar, Hishtil and Virentes. Drones for automating agricultural tasks can also be sourced from Israel. Skyx is another Israeli startup which offers autonomous agriculture spraying and asset monitoring.
Advice and Knowledge Sharing
Indian farmers require the use of information technology to bridge the knowledge gap, receive extension services, farming advice and other critical support.
India has an overall rank of 138 in the ICT Development Index. One out of every ten farmers in India has internet access and smartphone penetration, which is higher in urban areas but can be as low as 20% in remote regions.
However, there are signs of increased usage due to falling prices of smartphone and broadband costs. With more farmers connected digitally, Israeli firms such as Cultivu, Agriculture Knowledge on-line (AKOL) and AgriTask can offer software solutions to the industry.
Resource Management and Precision Agriculture
The use of ICT and DSS sensors to control irrigation based on soil humidity and to receive accurate weather forecasts, soil and plant health diagnostics, pest and disease recognition, low-cost precision technology, as well as SMS-based alerts for prescribing preventive measures – all these interventions can enhance India’s agriculture productivity.
Israel boasts of over 50 startups in this area, some of which can be relevant for India. Some examples are:
- Sol Chip, which offers solar energy sensor,
- CropX, Manna Irrigation, and Saturas for smart irrigation,
- Taranis and ATP labs for farm monitoring and management, and
- Farmdog and FieldIn for integrated pest management.
Post-harvest and integrated value chains
According to Indian Ministry of Food Processing Industries, post-harvest loss of agricultural produce is estimated at $ 13 billion. This has major economic repercussions such as lower price realizations, waste of water, land and energy used in the production of agricultural goods.
The lack of appropriate storage and warehouse infrastructure, logistics, transportation and systems for tracking the agricultural produces, as it moves across the supply chain-all these limitations leave the produce prone to spoilage and degradation.
Israeli tech ventures tackling some of these issues include:
- Amaizz and Pimi Agro offer storage solutions, preventing spoilage and the spread of diseases;
- BT9 provides real-time cold chain management;
- Aclartech monitors and analyzes fruit quality and ripeness;
- Yarok provides improved food safety testing; and
- Stepac and R.O.P offers modified atmosphere and humidity packaging technologies.