A tech-led reimagining of Indian agriculture
The UK-based Global Innovation Fund, which invests in innovations targeted at improving the lives of the poorest people in developing countries, has pumped in millions to back an Indian farm mechanisation project.
EM3 AgriServices, India’s leading private sector farm mechanisation services company, has raised a $10 million Series B round from London-based Global Innovation Fund (GIF) and existing investor Aspada. The company had earlier raised a $3.3 million Series A from Aspada in June 2015.
EM3 AgriServices is India’s first provider of farm services for the entire cultivation cycle, on a pay-per-use basis. With two-thirds of India’s farms smaller than a hectare, most of India’s small-hold farmers rely on manual labour as they cannot afford capital equipment such as advanced farm implements, tractors and harvesters. EM3 solves this problem by offering an entire range of interventions from soil preparation to harvesting, where farmers pay a service fee on a per hour or per acre basis. These services are cheaper than hiring manual labour, with service levels guaranteed by the company.
At a time when Indian agriculture is seeking structural solutions, marquee investors believe that addressing key fundamental aspects will allow the country to usher in the next green revolution. With this investment, EM3 plans to expand geographically across the country, boost ecosystem capacity and invest in building technology.
Alix Peterson Zwane, Chief Executive Officer, Global Innovation Fund, said: “We were impressed by the potential of EM3’s pioneering approach towards solving one of Indian agriculture’s most fundamental challenges.
“As they embark on their next phase of growth, we look forward to EM3 continuing to be a market leader in a rapidly growing market in a sector critical to India and its millions of small-hold farmers.”
With a strong established footprint in Central India, EM3 has also recently partnered with the state government of Rajasthan to provide services to farmers across the entire state.
Adwitiya Mal, CEO, EM3, explains: “The next farm revolution is taking place through access to mechanisation. However, with a disorganised mechanization ecosystem today, the rural economy is not able to fully realise its potential. We are pleased that GIF and Aspada are investing in building tomorrow’s farm economy.”
Kartik Srivatsa, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Aspada, adds: “Over the last two years, EM3 has been able prove its pioneering model of Farming-as-a-Service (FaaS) to emerge as the leading independent farm services player in India. We now embark on the next phase to rapidly scale the FaaS model as well as our mobile platform for small-hold farmers to access services across the agriculture value chain.
“The company’s proprietary access to farm level data through its operations places it in a unique position to become a canonical leader in the sector.”
EM3 Founder and Managing Director Rohtash Mal expressed his excitement to have GIF as an integral part of the EM3 growth story.
He said: “In both GIF and Aspada we have partners who are thought leaders for cutting-edge innovations and long-term collaboration. EM3 is committed to providing every farmer an opportunity to use farm services at a price point and convenience that will improve his yields and enable him to aspire for more crop per acre with enhanced economic value creation.
“We value the foresight of GIF and Aspada in understanding the untapped opportunity and potential of this huge market.”
Founded in 2014, EM3 AgriServices is India’s first provider of farm services on pay-per-use basis. Services are provided for the entire cultivation cycle including land development, land preparation, seeding, sowing, planting, crop care, harvesting and post-harvest field management.
Farmers are able to access EM3’s services digitally through a mobile app or physically by contacting a “Samadhan Kendra”, the company’s local fulfillment centre. Having serviced over 8,000 farms through 10 farm service centers since inception, EM3 has validated the feasibility of a model that brings affordable and reliable mechanization as a pay-per-use service to small-hold farmers.
Aspada Investment Company is a holding company and venture capital investor with a significant commitment from the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF). The firm is an active investor in India, with investments across agricultural supply chains, logistics, financial services, education, and healthcare. Aspada also manages the portfolio of SONG, an early stage venture capital fund backed by the Soros Economic Development Fund, Omidyar Network, and Google.
The newest investor in EM3, GIF, is an innovation fund that invests in the piloting, rigorous testing, and scaling of innovations targeted at improving the lives of the poorest people in developing countries. GIF aims to support a portfolio of innovations that collectively open up opportunities and improve lives for millions of people across the developing world.
The fund is created and supported by USAID, UKAID, the governments of of Sweden and Australia and the Omidyar network.