Fasal, an agriculture analytics platform owned by Bengaluru-based Wolkus Technology Solutions, has raised $1.6 million in a seed funding round from new and existing investors. New investors in the round included impact venture capital firm Omnivore and Singapore-based early stage investor Wavemaker Partners.
Mount Parker Ventures, Hong Kong-based Animoca, and Japan’s Mistletoe, via its Gastrotope accelerator, participated in the round. Existing investors Zeroth, an AI/ML accelerator, and Artesian Ventures from Australia also participated in the round, said a statement.
Fasal is an AI (artificial intelligence) enabled IoT (internet of things) and SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform for horticulture. It captures real-time data on conditions from on-farm sensors to deliver crop-specific analysis to farmers via mobile phones in vernacular languages.
The funds will be used to build AI capabilities for every horticulture value chain the startup looks after. Some of the horticulture value chains where Fasal is currently working include grapes, pomegranate, mango, citrus, tea, coffee, and chilli.
It also plans to launch a lower-cost and instantly installable version of its field sensor array shortly. Fasal claims its field sensor array can be installed by farmers in less than 15 minutes and measures multiple dynamic variables, including micro-climate, soil, and crop conditions.
Fasal then employs ML (machine learning) to translate the field sensor data into prediction of farm-level and associated risks. The crop protection, irrigation, and crop nutrition optimizations help the horticulture farmers in cost reductions.
“Farmers using Fasal are seeing major increases in profitability and huge water savings, even in the driest parts of Maharashtra. Ultimately, we will become a full-stack platform for horticulture farmers, and we are excited to partner with Omnivore and Wavemaker to help make that happen,” Ananda Prakash Verma, co-founder and chief executive at Fasal, said.
Founded in 2018 by Verma and Shailendra Tiwari, Fasal is presently operating in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh, but plans to expand pan-India and also enter select markets across Southeast Asia.
It will also scale up its B2B2F (business-to-business-to-farmer) sales force, partnering with aggregators, exporters, and processors in each horticulture value chain to access their networks of farmers.
“We plan to help Fasal accelerate the growth of their B2B2F business model by connecting them to leading agribusinesses across the region and onboarding the farmers they source from,” said Mark Kahn, managing partner at Omnivore.
Identifying irrigation management and diseases and pests as two core problems that plague horticulture farmers, Paul Santos, managing partner at Wavemaker said the two problems are prevalent in Southeast Asia just as much as they are in India, he added.
“We look forward to helping Fasal enter this (Southeast Asia) region,” he said.
India’s agri-tech sector received more than $248 million funding as of June 2019, scaling up almost 300% as compared to last year, according to software industry lobby Nasscom.
In the recent past, Omnivore was part of a $2 million funding round in another AI-powered agri-tech startup called Intello Labs. It also backed Gurugram-based online marketplace for farm products and services DeHaat in another seed round of $4 million.