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Image credit: DeHaat

Indian farmer marketplace DeHaat doubles down on biologicals with two new partnerships

July 17, 2023

Disclosure: AFN’s parent company, AgFunder, is an investor in DeHaat.

India-based agribusiness marketplace DeHaat has announced partnerships with two global biological input companies: US-based Global BioAg Innovation (GBI) and Australia’s Aussan Laboratorie.

Through the multi-year partnership, DeHaat will exclusively sell and distribute six “unique” biologicals formulations patented by GBI and Aussan Labs through its franchise centers.

Image credit: DeHaat

Why it matters

India recently surpassed China as the world’s most populous nation and is also one of the world’s top food-producing countries.

At the same time, India’s farmers — the majority of which produce on less than 2 hectares of land — grapple with unreliable access to inputs, opaque pricing and the “exploitative middlemen” linked to excessive prices and an unsteady supply of goods.

Agribusiness marketplaces have surfaced as the result of these (amongst other) problems in many countries around the world. In India, startups offering ag marketplaces comprised the top-funded upstream category in terms of agrifoodtech investment in 2022.

Biologicals, which are naturally derived alternatives to chemical pesticides, herbicides and other crop inputs, are a huge opportunity in India, where over-reliance on chemical crop inputs is rampant. A report published in Nature this year found that “for every US$ 1,000 investment in sustainable farming, a US$ 100,000 subsidy is allocated for chemical fertilizers in India.”

To change those numbers, the cost of biologicals has to come down for smallholder farmers, the majority of which rely heavily on chemical inputs. There must also be significant work put into educating farmers on what biologicals are, how to use them, and whether a product is or isn’t “snake oil.”

This is what DeHaat hopes to do through its new partnership.

The DeHaat online marketplace links India’s smallholder farmers with input vendors, agronomists, distributors, financing options, and other service providers. The company raised $60 million at the end of 2022, following a record-breaking $115 million in 2021. It is widely considered to be the fastest-growing agribusiness marketplace startup in India.

Through the new partnership, DeHaat will exclusively sell and distribute six “unique” formulations patented by GBI and Aussan Labs through its DeHaat franchise centers. These centers are located in rural bazaars and provide the face-to-face interaction between the company and farmers. DeHaat “micro-entrepreneurs” currently run 12,000 of these across 110,000 villages in 12 Indian states. DeHaat says it serves around 2 million farmers through the centers.

As one example of the partnership in action, DeHaat is selling Aussan Labs’ flagship product, the biofertilizer CropBioLife, exclusively through the DeHaat network. The product is already widely available in other geographies around the world and will, Aussan India CEO Sandeep Jayaswal said, “enable higher ROI for Indian farmers in an eco-friendly & sustainable manner.”

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