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India’s poultry industry is poised for a significant boost as the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) recently approved the country’s self-declaration of freedom from Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in specific poultry compartments. This approval is expected to have a substantial impact on India’s poultry exports.

According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), India’s poultry exports reached a peak of 6.64 lakh tonnes valued at $134.04 million during the 2022-23 fiscal year, nearly doubling from the previous year’s figures. In 2021-22, poultry shipment volumes were at 3.20 lakh tonnes, valued at $71.03 million. Alongside the recent self-declaration, global factors such as the impact of the Ukraine war have also contributed to the surge in the global demand for Indian poultry products.

India’s assertion of being HPAI-free in its poultry compartments reinforces its market credibility. This declaration instils confidence among international buyers regarding the safety, quality, and disease-free nature of Indian poultry products. It serves as a testament to the nation’s commitment to stringent biosecurity measures and efficient disease control protocols.

To achieve this benchmark, the government and private players undertook significant steps, including the complete eradication of the poultry population, disposal of infected eggs, feed, litter, and other materials, disinfection and cleaning up of infected premises, as well as the restriction of poultry and poultry products to and from outbreak areas. These measures, outlined in an official statement, were pivotal in obtaining the HPAI-free status.

Putting a magnifying glass on the bundle of advantages of India’s HPAI-free ranking, Shan Kadavil, Co-Founder and CEO, FreshToHome said, “Exporters of poultry from India will benefit from the HPAI-free status. In contrast to products coming from areas still grappling with Avian Influenza outbreaks, they can market theirs as premium, safe, and superior. Indian poultry products can benefit from this competitive edge by experiencing increased demand and preference in the global market.”

Echoing similar thoughts, Abhishek Negi, Co-founder & CEO, Eggoz opined, “The stage is set for an increase in export volumes with the HPAI-free declaration. It draws in new customers looking for safe, high-quality poultry products and encourages current trade partners to increase their imports of poultry from India. The overall export earnings of India are boosted by this surge in exports. The expansion of the poultry export market is due to more than just a rise in profits. It promotes economic stability and adds to the nation’s employment landscape by stimulating job creation throughout the supply chain, from farms to processing units and logistics.”

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India’s poultry industry is poised for a

– Shardul Sheth, Co-founder & CEO, AgroStar

Established in 2013, AgroStar stands as a pioneering AgTech startup in India, dedicated to the mission of “Helping Farmers Win.” By providing real-time agronomy advisory services and facilitating access to premium farm inputs, AgroStar has empowered farmers to cultivate higher-quality crops, resulting in remarkable yield increases ranging from 30 to 100 per cent. The key to this success lies in AgroStar’s distinctive omnichannel network, which boasts a massive outreach, engaging over 7.5 million farmers and encompassing a rapidly expanding retail network of more than 7000 agri-input stores in 7 states. Additionally, AgroStar’s strategic acquisition of INI Farms, a prominent fruit and vegetable (F&V) exporter in India, has further amplified its impact by enabling farmers to tap into global markets with more favourable rates for their produce. Shardul Sheth, Co-founder & CEO of AgroStar, shares his insights into the dynamics of the agri-input and output e-commerce market in India, with AgroSpectrum. Edited excerpts;

How is Agrostar contributing to the growth of agri-input digital marketplaces in India?

One of the biggest factors that is driving the growth of agri-input marketplaces is the access these platforms provide to a wider range of products to farmers. While providing access to agri-inputs is the foundational aspect, what sets AgroStar apart is the provision of high-quality bespoke agronomy advisory services alongside a diverse array of superior agri inputs.

One of the primary challenges farmers face is the need for up-to-the-minute information on progressive farming practices. AgroStar addresses this challenge through its farmer advisory centre and mobile app, granting farmers access to a wealth of agronomy knowledge. Through the app, they can stay abreast of the latest farming techniques, pest and disease management, and receive real-time personalised advice from AgroStar’s Agri-Doctors. This empowerment enables farmers to make informed decisions that enhance their crop yields. To date, the AgroStar mobile app has successfully resolved over 12 million queries from farmers, with a monthly influx of 70 million-plus data points into AgroStar’s data stack, reinforcing our capacity to deliver customised agronomy guidance on a large scale.

It is through this tailored agronomy guidance that AgroStar can recommend the most suitable agri inputs to our farmers, who can conveniently make purchases through our app and have them delivered to their doorstep or opt to visit an AgroStar store, also known as AgroStar ki Laal Dukaan in their vicinity. 

What is the status of agri-input and output digital marketplaces in India?

India has seen a proliferation of agri-input and output platforms in recent years. These platforms aim to bring transparency, efficiency, and convenience to agricultural transactions. However, the landscape is dynamic, and several factors influence its current status.

Growth: Agri-input digital marketplaces have been growing due to the increased adoption of technology in rural India. Farmers are increasingly using these platforms to procure quality seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, and other essential inputs.

Government Initiatives: Various government initiatives aimed at promoting digital agriculture platforms have further contributed to the growth of the sector. Visionary programmes like e-NAM (National Agriculture Market) designed to connect agricultural markets online, have the potential to create a substantial impact over time.

Challenges: Persistent challenges such as digital literacy, limited internet connectivity in rural areas, and trust in online transactions continue to pose obstacles. As technology advances rapidly, the essential skills required for its utilisation become crucial. There are still pockets of regions with low or intermittent internet access, even though mobile phone penetration has accelerated over the last few years. Establishing last-mile delivery systems in remote locations remains a challenge.

Opportunity: Despite challenges, new opportunities are emerging that can propel the sector’s growth. Platforms like Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), for instance, can provide an avenue for every seller or brand to reach a broader audience of farmers across the country. This presents an opportunity for brands or sellers to expand their reach and offerings rapidly while providing farmers access to a more extensive range of products.

Which segment of agri-input is leading in the e-commerce market, and what are the driving factors of the agri-input e-commerce market?

We are witnessing a surge in farmers’ interest across various categories within agri-input e-commerce, including Seeds, Crop Nutrition, Crop Protection products and Farm Implements. However, each of these categories requires distinct levels of service in terms of advisory. For example, farmers often seek advisory support to identify the nature of the pest attacks on their crops before using crop protection products.

Some of the factors that are driving the growth of the sector include:

Access to Quality Inputs: E-commerce platforms aim to provide farmers with access to a diverse range of high-quality agricultural inputs, enabling them to make informed choices based on their specific crop and soil requirements. Marketplaces enable brands to reach a broader audience and explore new regions.

Advisory Services: One of the core issues faced by farmers is the lack of information about progressive farming practices. To be an effective agri e-commerce marketplace, companies must prioritise building robust advisory capabilities. This includes offering crop management tips, pest control advice, and guidance on suitable inputs, thereby enhancing the overall value proposition for farmers.

Convenience: Online purchasing offers a convenient alternative to farmers, saving them time and effort compared to traditional methods. Farmers can browse, select, and order products from the comfort of their homes.

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- Shardul Sheth, Co-founder & CEO, AgroStarEstablished

Cohort participants will receive business and technical assistance over the entire crop cycle through technical training sessions, mentorships and one-on-one support.

BioPrime AgriSolutions, a leading biotechnology company specialising in developing cutting-edge agri-biologicals, is revolutionising farmer empowerment with the launch of its “King Farmers Cohort” program. This initiative equips farmers with crop-specific, region-specific knowledge and skills, preparing them to thrive in the evolving agricultural landscape. Through a mixture of focused technical training sessions, mentorships, one-on-one support, and group farm visits, Cohort participants will receive business and technical assistance over the entire crop cycle. 

The King Farmers Cohort goes beyond mere yield maximization and fosters a holistic approach to agriculture, with a focus on crucial areas like climate-resilient practices, soil health management, and building profitability. Each cohort will hold four dedicated technical training sessions led by leading researchers, and innovators to provide targeted knowledge focusing on farmers’ crop specific needs and empower them to adapt to the ever-changing climate and nurture healthy soil, which is the foundation for sustainable success.

The learning extends beyond the classroom with designated field days and harvest days in selected farmer fields for practical learning, inspiration, and networking. Thus, creating a forum for peer-to-peer learning, where shared challenges find collaborative solutions and best practices flourish through hands-on experiences. As one farmer who’s participated in an Onion Cohort noted, there’s a great benefit of learning from other farmers with differing amounts of experience and expertise, and the supportive nature of the group created a space to find solutions to problems collaboratively.

To crown it all, BioPrime will organise a valedictory function to commemorate each cohort with rewards for outstanding achievements in yield, profitability, and sustainability through a grand ceremony, adding a layer of motivation that inspires every farmer to reach their highest potential.

 Speaking about the initiative, Dr Renuka Diwan, Co-Founder & CEO, of BioPrime AgriSolutions said, “At BioPrime, we believe empowering farmers isn’t just about higher yields, it’s also about equipping them to be sustainable. The King Farmers Cohort is a catalyst in this changing world where we pool resources and support for farmers towards a future where profitability and sustainability go hand-in-hand.”

Cohort participants will receive business and technical

The success of this trial shipment promises to unlock fresh prospects for Indian banana farmers in a market as quality conscious as Europe.

 AgroStar, one of India’s foremost AgTech start-ups, working on the mission of Helping Farmers Win, is proud to announce a significant milestone achieved by its subsidiary, INI Farms. In an encouraging development for banana farmers in India, the first consignment of INI Farms’ ‘Kimaye’ branded bananas has been shipped to Fresh Del Monte in Europe, opening new horizons for the export of fresh Indian fruits.

The pilot was executed by INI Farms in collaboration with Agricultural Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), along with support from ICAR-Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture (CISH), Lucknow for technical assistance, Fresh Del Monte for marketing and distribution in Europe, and Maersk for logistics. The export venture was flagged off on 9th November by APEDA Chairman Abhishek Dev from Baramati, Maharashtra.

Over the years, APEDA-registered INI Farms has earned a reputation for its strong sourcing infrastructure with inbuilt SOPs and enhanced the quality and shelf life of bananas to meet the stringent requirements of the European market.

Sharing her thoughts on the momentous occasion, Purnima Khandelwal, CEO, INI Farms said, “We are delighted to partake in this trial shipment aimed at cementing India’s presence in the banana trade in Europe. The success of this trial shipment promises to unlock fresh prospects for our banana farmers in a market as quality conscious as Europe.

Over the years, our brand ‘Kimaye’ has become a well-known global consumer F&V brand out of India, synonymous with great quality and food safety. We are proud to join hands with thousands of banana farmers across India as we cater to the growing global demand for Indian bananas.”

Shardul Sheth, Co-founder & CEO, AgroStar, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “India is the largest producer of bananas in the world. We see massive opportunities in banana exports and its potential to transform the lives of banana farmers across the country. We are committed to working closely with our farmers and partners and make it the first billion-dollar revenue fruit category from India.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to APEDA, ICAR, and all our cherished partners. Their unwavering support and invaluable contributions have been pivotal in steering us towards this momentous occasion.”

“We are proud to be the first company to market and distribute Indian bananas in Europe and to be a member of the partnership that made this happen,” said Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, Fresh Del Monte’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Opening a new source of bananas to the entire European continent is a huge milestone and we hope this is just the beginning. We see this as a win-win for all parties involved, including consumers and banana growers across India. Thank you to our partners in this endeavour whose expertise in various sectors made this possible.”

The success of this trial shipment promises

The first consignment of 150 boxes of INI Farms’ – ‘Kimaye’ branded pomegranates has been air-shipped to New York, USA

AgroStar, one of India’s foremost AgTech start-ups, working on the mission of Helping Farmers Win, is proud to announce a significant milestone achieved by its subsidiary, INI Farms. In a positive development for pomegranate farmers in India, INI Farms has successfully conducted a trial shipment of high-quality pomegranate exports from India to the USA, opening up new avenues for the export of Indian fresh fruits.

The pilot was executed by INI Farms in collaboration with Agricultural Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO), Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board, and Pomegranate Research Centre, Solapur. The first consignment of 150 boxes (450 kg) of INI Farms’ – ‘Kimaye’ branded pomegranates has been air-shipped to New York, USA. The export venture was virtually flagged off by Chairman, APEDA at the Irradiation Facility Center in Vashi (Navi Mumbai). The successful export of pomegranates to the USA highlights the immense potential opportunities that lie ahead for Indian farmers and the country’s F&V exports on a global scale.

Sharing her thoughts on the milestone, Purnima Khandelwal, CEO, INI Farms said, “The efforts of the entire INI Farms’ team over the years have helped put the Indian Farmer on the world map by making great quality Indian fruits available around the world. ‘Kimaye’ is now a well-known global consumer F&V brand out of India, synonymous with great quality and safety. We are delighted to enable this significant trial to establish India’s pomegranate trade with the USA and excited about the opportunities and increased livelihoods it can bring for our farmers.”

Shardul Sheth, Co-founder & CEO, AgroStar, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “We are proud to be the pioneers in the industry to successfully ship great quality pomegranates grown by Indian Farmers to one of the most quality-conscious markets in the world, the USA. This pilot is an important milestone in our journey of opening up new horizons for Indian farmers and contributing to the growth of F&V exports from India. We are grateful to the role of APEDA, NPPO, Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board, Pomegranate Research Centre, Solapur and US APHIS for their role in achieving this milestone.”

The first consignment of 150 boxes of

By Dr Renuka Diwan, Co-Founder & CEO, BioPrime Agrisolutions

In a rapidly growing and urbanising India, a sustained agricultural growth and food security must be factored. Biotechnology holds great promise for enhancing crop resilience and promoting sustainable agricultural practices. One particularly promising approach gaining traction in recent years is the development of microbe–plant interactions for plant‐growth promotion and disease control. The interaction of plants and microbes forms an integral part of the Earth’s ecosystem and have applications in various fields. Studying and harnessing this communication can improve our understanding of natural phenomena that affect our daily lives and enable us to adopt practices that lead to sustainable resource utilisation, reduced environmental impact, pollution cleanup, and even influence on global atmospheric gases.

The connection between the plants and microbes is highly complex, regulated by specialised metabolic products that alter gene expression. This intricate relationship can result in plant growth, inhibition of soil pathogens, improved nutrient availability, biofilm development, accumulation of soil microbes, or a combination of these effects. Such interactions eliminate the need for artificial fertilisers that can contribute to pollution. Utilising these interactions in biotechnology offers numerous advantages. By employing naturally occurring plant-microbe pairings for plant development and biocontrol, the reliance on synthetic fertilisers and pesticide treatments can be minimised. Technologies involving plant–microbe interactions provide economically viable and environmentally sound alternatives to conventional processes. The mutualistic nature of these interactions enables plants to directly acquire nutrients (acting as biofertilisers) or facilitates the uptake of substances like iron or phosphate, making them more accessible to plants.

Leveraging Biological Agents

Microbials, which encompass naturally occurring microorganisms and their byproducts, provide sustainable and eco-friendly solutions to address climate-related stressors in crops. These biological agents work in harmony with nature, promoting plant health, improving nutrient uptake, and combating diseases and pests. By harnessing the power of biologicals, farmers can enhance the resilience of their crops, ensuring sustainable and consistent yields even in challenging climates.

Deploying Biostimulants

Biostimulants, derived from natural sources such as seaweed extracts, humic acids, and beneficial microbes, play a crucial role in strengthening crop health and resilience. These substances stimulate plant growth, enhance nutrient uptake efficiency, and improve stress tolerance. By incorporating biostimulants through biologicals, farmers can fortify their crops against drought, salinity, and extreme temperatures, ultimately leading to improved yields.

Using Abscisic Acid

Small molecules play a critical role in plant physiology and have been leveraged to enhance crop resilience. Notable examples include the use of abscisic acid (ABA) and proline, which are small molecules involved in plant stress responses. ABA is known to regulate stomatal closure, reducing water loss through transpiration and improving drought tolerance. In a study conducted by Smith et al. (2021), maize plants treated with exogenous ABA showed a 35 per cent reduction in water loss, enhancing their ability to withstand drought stress.

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By Dr Renuka Diwan, Co-Founder & CEO,

Founded in 2013, AgroStar primarily offers advisory to  farmers and access to quality agri-products through their  retail stores. AgroStar currently operates in the states  of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh,  and Uttar Pradesh serving over 18 million farmers and  covering over 7,500 pin codes. Agri Advisory Center is the  largest such centre in South Asia in the field of agriculture. Recently, AgroStar acquired INI Farms Pvt Ltd, the largest  exporter of fruits like bananas and  pomegranates from  India, in a 100 per cent acquisition deal. The acquisition will help AgroStar to rapidly scale their business into the domestic and international food supply chains, as well as achieve their target of Rs 1000 crore in FY23, a threefold jump in revenues. Shardul Sheth, Co-founder & CEO, AgroStar interacts with AgroSpectrum about the future of horticulture exports in India. Edited excerpts;

Recently AgroStar has acquired the largest exporter of F&V crops, INI Farms. How will the company provide market linkage solutions for the
domestic and export markets to INI Farms’ large network of farmers?
AgroStar is India’s largest digital network of farmers and has created an AgTech platform that provides farmers with good quality agri-inputs and on-time advisory. These value propositions have helped millions of farmers increase their yield, reduce their cost of cultivation and improve the quality of their produce, thereby helping farmers earn more. Just like the assistance on the input side, our farmers are seeking our support in providing better market linkages to sell their produce. With repeated farmer requests over the years, venturing into the output side was the logical next step in our mission of Helping Farmers Win. INI Farms has spent a decade building a brand focused on making great quality fresh fruits of Indian origin available to the world. It is now India’s largest exporter of bananas and pomegranates. Its brand “Kimaye” is available in more than 35 countries around the world. AgroStar will provide additional value to its large network of farmers by making its produce available to quality-conscious consumers around the globe. INI Farms’ customer base of global retailers will get access to a wider basket of F&V products. AgroStar will also provide access to great quality inputs, tech-based farm interventions, and solutions designed to increase yields to INI Farms’ network of farmers across multiple states. INI Farms’ acquisition provides a great opportunity for our farmers to expand their business to new and international markets, and our global customers will also now have access to a much wider and more diverse crop base.

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Founded in 2013, AgroStar primarily offers advisory