7 Asian startups putting the spotlight on agriculture

Lyra Reyes

Agritech is a growing sector in Asia. And it’s just about time, too.

For a specie that relies on crops for a large portion of their food, humans have not really been that great at developing agriculture. The growth rates of agricultural production and crop yields have slowed the past few years, and while that may be attributed the declining food needs of a declining global population, it should also be taken into account that almost 800 million people are undernourished.

With Asia supporting the food needs of 60 percent of the global population in roughly 23 percent of the world’s agricultural land, and with volatile climate changes, land constraints due to urbanisation, and a growing population coming into play, Asia needs technology to sustain agricultural growth.

Also read: This robotic machine can detect, locate and pick the harvestable crops from your farm and store them in a bin

While agritech in Asia is young, it is growing, and several startups in Asia are now directing their eyes on tackling agriculture problems from sustainable crop management, increasing yield, and even financing. Here are a few startups putting agriculture in the general public’s viewfinder:

Build your own farm with Cityfarm

We bring the farm to the city

The Malaysia-based Cityfarm launched in 2016 with the aim of creating self-sustaining food supplies in the cities. The company uses Hydroponics technology, allowing soil-less farming in urban centers, and launched a 450 sq ft indoor vertical show farm with controlled environment capable of producing 2000 heads of lettuce monthly. Cityfarm distributes kits and supplies for indoor farming as well as offers courses for beginners.

Science-backed farming with MimosaTek

We aspire to implement precision agriculture in every farm

Agricultural practices in Vietnam are largely still manual and experience-based – something that MimosaTek is aspiring to change. Founded in 2014, the company has developed a cloud-based system that lets farmers control and manage farms with the use of sensors to monitor the environment, alerts on unfavourable environmental factors, crop progress monitoring, crop database, and remote irrigation execution through mobile phones. The system allows farmers to manage crops and farm plan based on collected data on daily environment and historical crop database. MimosaTek has recently won the Vietnamese round of the Seedstar World Competition and will compete at the Seedstars Summit in Switzerland in March 2017.

Plant vicariously with iGrow

Everyone can plant.

Founded in 2014, iGrow is an online marketplace for the general public to invest in crops. Through a mobile app, investors get to choose the seeds they want to purchase based on their budget, interest, and expected returns, which would then be planted by farmers in the iGrow network. The app also provides the investor with real-time updates of crop progress and as tracker for profit shares. Headquartered and operating in Indonesia, iGrow has helped over 2,000 farmers and utilised over 1,000 hectares of land for farming.

Also read: Agritech startup iGrow reaps seed funding from East Ventures, 500 Startups

Water crops correctly with FlyBird Farm Innovations

Improving the livelihood of farmers through innovation and technology

One important aspect of farming is irrigation – but for farmlands without access to ample water, the correct time and quantity of of irrigation is not only important but may be the difference between a productive and non-productive farming cycle. Enter FlyBird Farm Innovations, a startup that develop solutions to automate the irrigation process. With products such as sensor-based irrigation controllers based on soil moisture and temprerature, volume-based irrigation controllers based on preset water quantity, and timer-based irrigation controllers, the company aims to ensure resource sufficiency and irrigation efficiency for better farm and crop management. Based in India, FlyBird Farm Innovations also developed a mobile app controller that allows farmers to remotely control and monitor irrigation as well as have access to data analytics for farm planning.

Farm anywhere with Living Greens Organics

We bring the freshness of nature in your daily lives

Farming need not be limited to farmlands, as Living Greens Organics has set out to prove. Having developed specialised organic rooftop farming solutions, the company also offers products and services such as rooftop fruit farming, outdoor green walls, indoor green walls, herb stands, and consultancy for organic farming and medicinal plants. Living Greens Organics is headquartered in India and has converted over 100 homes into organic homes.

Supply chain efficiency with CroFarm

We’re creating India’s first zero wastage digitized supply chain of agricultural produce

With India’s preventable post-harvest loss has been estimated to equal Australia’s total production, CroFarm set out to develop a supply chain system that connects the consumers directly to the farmers to avoid wastage. Retailers use a mobile app to place and confirm their orders and delivery times, as well as to make payments while farmers use the system to access data on produce specifications required by the market and accept digital payments. CroFarm is currently is headquartered in Delhi, India and is backed by Pravega Ventures.

Also read: 27 Asian startups that kick ass

Crowdfunding for farmers with Cropital

Doing good comes with great rewards

Funding for farming cycles remains to be one of the problems of Philippine farmers with most of them relying on loan sharks with high interests rates as most farmers do not have the proper documentation for bank-backed financing. Oftentimes, this results to farmlands not being optimised for farming. A cross between fintech and agritech, Cropital seeks to address this issue and developed a crowdfunding platform to support farmers. Currently in Beta phase, the company has already finished 2 farming cycles of 23 farms in the Philippines and is currently in the third cycle. The company is also looking into partnering with farmers of Napier plants to grow grass for use in biomass conversion.

Featured image credit: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

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