Prosus Bets on AI to Help Reshape India’s $350 Billion Farm Industry
Wheat is harvested by hand in India. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Prosus Bets on AI to Help Reshape India’s $350 Billion Farm Industry

Prosus NV is investing in agritech company DeHaat in a bet on India’s $350 billion farming industry.

The Dutch e-commerce group with assets all round the globe led a Series C funding round of $30 million that DeHaat will use to hire more staff, develop new technology and improve its supply chain, the head of Prosus Ventures India, Ashutosh Sharma, said in an interview.

The DeHaat platform uses artificial intelligence to help around 350,000 Indian farmers source raw materials, find advisory and credit services and sell their crops.

A growing population and increasingly erratic climate is forcing India’s mostly small-scale farm sector to invest in technology to improve yields. One in nine agricultural technology startups worldwide are from the South Asian nation, according to a report by the Indian trade body Nasscom.

“India needs something that could scale the farming industry fast, and technology is the only leverage that can do that,” said Sharma.

Prosus may look to market crop-protection service Aerobotics -- in which its own parent company Naspers Ltd. is an investor -- to DeHaat’s farmers, Sharma said. Prosus will also explore ways to connect DeHaat with some of its other large ventures.

“We are already working with our food-delivery company Swiggy, for instance, to supply fresh produce on the grocery platform, although it’s still in an experimental phase,” he said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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