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An Arya warehouse. Image credit: Arya

With $60m in fresh funding, Arya is eyeing a $20bn slice of India’s grain market

January 20, 2022

Indian post-harvest services startup Arya has closed $60 million in Series C funding.

The Noida-based startup provides logistics, warehousing, and financing solutions aimed at small-scale grain growers, whose lack of sufficient access to such services can lead to lost income and food waste.

The bigger picture:

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that as much as 40% of food produced in India is wasted before it reaches consumers, amounting to $14 billion in lost value – and compounding the country’s chronic hunger problem (it was ranked 101st out 116 countries by the 2021 Global Hunger Index.)

A study by India’s National Academy of Agricultural Sciences found that a lack of adequate storage is the major cause of post-harvest food losses in the country. A conservative estimate puts average post-harvest, pre-consumption loss of grains at 6%, driven mainly by storage in insufficient bags, spillage, rodent attacks, contamination, and theft.

To avoid these outcomes, large-scale growers can generally afford to transport their produce farther afield, or use higher-quality storage facilities. But small-scale growers and smallholders typically seek to sell their produce as quickly as possible; during the post-harvest glut, that means they often have to sell at throwaway prices, representing a lost income opportunity.

How it works:

  • Arya seeks out smaller-scale warehouses and storage facilities, conveniently located close to farming communities, and lists these on its online platform.
  • Growers can use the online portal to search for, compare, and book suitable warehouses where they can store their produce after harvesting and prior to sale.
  • Arya also offers financing solutions to cover cash-strapped farmers’ costs between harvest and sale; as well as an online marketplace for buying and selling agri-commodities. It claims to have handled around $2 billion in grain transactions to date.
  • “Because we hold the commodity in our warehouses, we have complete visibility into quantity and quality. This is how we are able to establish a connect between the buyer and seller,” co-founder Prasanna Rao told TechCrunch.

Corporate partnerships:

Future plans:

“We intend to use the funding to capture more than 20% of the $100 billion grain commerce market,” Rao told The Economic Times.

Arya has close to 10,000 warehouses across 21 states in its network at the moment, up from just 1,500 a year ago; its target is to grow this to 60,000 over the next four years.

“Given that there has been substantial growth in our volumes and that the lending book has expanded […] we have already initiated a [further] $100 million fundraise which should be done in the first half of the current calendar year,” Rao said.

By the numbers:

Indian startups focused on the ‘messy middle’ of the agrifood value chain raised a combined $176 million across 29 deals in FY21, according to research by VC firm AgFunder – making Midstream Technologies the country’s most active category in terms of deal volume [disclosure: AgFunder is AFN‘s parent company]

Midstream Technologies is a category created by AgFunder’s research team to cover everything in the food value chain that sits between the farm (or the lab) and consumer-facing areas like retail and foodservice: it includes logistics and transportation, processing, food waste mitigation, farmer-to-business e-commerce, and safety and quality testing, among other areas.

Arya was among the top-funded Midstream Technologies startups in India during the last financial year, raising $21 million in Series B funding in December 2020.

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