Farm management platform Fasal has raised $4 million in funding as it plots its expansion within India and into Southeast Asia. The pre-Series A round was led by local VC firm 3one4 Capital, with participation from existing investors including Mumbai-based Omnivore and Singapore’s Wavemaker Partners.
New investors coming on board for this round included Genting Ventures, the VC arm of Malaysian agrifood and hospitality conglomerate Genting Group; Singapore-based Antares Investments; The Yield Lab Asia Pacific; and Sandeep Singhal, co-founder and senior advisor at Nexus Venture Partners.
Founded in 2018, Fasal describes itself as a ‘full-stack’ software platform for the “progressive horticulture” industry. Using on-farm sensors, it aggregates and analyzes data to provide farmers across India with actionable insights delivered in their local language.
Fasal co-founder Shailendra Tiwari tells AFN that fruit and vegetable growers can access this intelligence either through the startup’s mobile apps, its web-based portal, or even by text message if more suitable for them.
The company’s focus is, “simply put, high-value fruits and vegetables [such as] grape, pomegranate, pepper, apple, and coffee, where farmers are already using micro-irrigation and other allied technologies,” he explains.
“Farmers purchase our low-cost IoT systems upfront, and pay a software-as-a-service fee biannually or annually.”
It plans to expand beyond digital agronomy to offer market linkage services and parametric crop insurance. The pre-Series A funds will be used to accelerate this process of diversification and scaling up, including through hires to the company’s agronomy, sales and marketing, and tech teams.
Some of the capital will also be invested in expanding Fasal’s services throughout India and farther afield.
“We’ve already started with our Southeast Asia expansion and have exported our technology to countries including Thailand,” says Tiwari.
“Given we are operating in crops like palm, coffee, pepper, and so on, we see the Southeast Asia region as a massive opportunity to improve crop outcomes and help build sustainable farms.”
In addition to launches in Thailand and Malaysia, Fasal is particularly attracted to the opportunity presented by Indonesia, “given the fact that our technology improves on-farm productivity dramatically, and Indonesian farms have been suffering from poor productivity,” he adds.
According to a survey — carried out by Omnivore and 60db, and backed by the Rockefeller Foundation — of farmers using Fasal in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the startup’s platform has had impressive results.
Responses to the survey indicate that Fasal has helped save 9 billion liters of water from irrigation, reduced pesticide expenditure by up to 60%, and increased yields across 40,000 farm acres.
“As government policies are evolving to support more robust and open supply chains, there has never been a bigger incentive for horticulture farmers to grow more and grow better. Fasal’s full-stack offering will fuel a rapid transition of Indian horticulture farming from ‘gut-based’ legacy operations into knowledge-led profitable businesses,” co-founder Ananda Verma said in a statement.
“Technology interventions are key to overcoming the plateau in agricultural productivity,” added 3one4 Capital partner Anurag Ramdasan. “Fasal’s precision agriculture solution is perfectly packaged for the needs of horticulture farmers, where advisory is both necessary and welcome.”