Agritech startup Greenikk is building a digital ecosystem for banana farmers

School buddies Farooq Naushad and Previn Jacob Varghese have all the time been inclined in direction of entrepreneurship.

Throughout their school days, they began an organization known as Invento Know-how Options which developed a platform for housewives to promote meals on-line. Later, in 2016, they began a software program options firm known as Teczium Options in Rwanda. Whereas the corporate managed to shut $750,000 value of offers inside 12 months of operations, Farik and Pervin had been nonetheless sad. They needed to construct one thing for India and India.

Lay this basis for greenikk. In response to the founding companions, after they returned to India in 2019, they had been intrigued by the sustainability push, which led them to construct a product within the area of agriculture.

Thiruvananthapuram-based Greenikk is at present constructing a digital ecosystem centered on banana plantations. The agritech platform has constructed Empowerment Facilities (EC) to supply farmers with required help corresponding to financing, seeds, crop advisory, insurance coverage protection, agricultural inputs together with climate recommendation, and market connectivity, protecting the total scope of manufacturing and advertising at house and overseas.

In response to the founders, the startup goals to resolve issues for each stakeholder in your entire banana worth chain – from banana growers and processing items to fee brokers, B2B bulk consumers and fiber consumers. The startup additionally takes banana waste and turns it into dung and banana fibre.

“We’re the primary built-in platform within the banana worth chain that gives end-to-end help (from financing/insurance coverage to advertising the product and getting worth from waste). In reality, it will improve the revenues of each stakeholder within the banana worth chain,” Farak says.

As of now, the startup has established ECs in among the main banana producing agricultural belts within the nation like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.

How did you begin?

In 2019, there was a ban on single-use plastics in India. This gave Previn the concept of ​​turning papaya stalks into sustainable straw. Pervin and Fariq labored with a scientist to supply the ultimate product and offered it on the Tata Social Enterprise Problem held at IIM Calcutta. Greenikk has additionally been acknowledged as one of many prime 3 social startups within the nation in 2020.

The corporate continued to work with papaya merchants and growers by way of 2020. Nevertheless, through the pandemic, the staff needed to put this mission on maintain on account of rising prices and the hospitality sector stalling.

In the meantime, the corporate was nonetheless receiving inquiries if it may assist distribute fruit from the community it had constructed. The staff additionally acquired concepts from working with the central authorities’s BIRAC fellowship program, working with farmers to construct a B2C mannequin for buying recent produce and delivering it to clients. This mannequin additionally acquired the corporate an preliminary funding from a US-based investor.

As soon as the economic system opened up, Greenikk shifted to a B2B mannequin as there was extra room for progress.

“Apart from being a digital service provider, we could not add any worth. So, as founders, we got here to the conclusion — why not concentrate on a bunch of crops, or possibly at the least one crop to begin with, after which dig deeper into it,” the staff shares.

This made them slim their focus to an overarching crop – bananas, as India can also be the biggest producer of bananas globally.

Completed fiber merchandise made by Greenikk utilizing agricultural waste (pseudostem)


Organizing a 200-year-old provide chain for vegatables and fruits requires some actual effort on the floor stage, Farak says. The corporate was initially cheated out of the cash of its shareholders. Fariq remembers a case the place someday an entire truckload of bananas went lacking and so they discovered that they’d been cheated by a dealer, inflicting a lack of Rs 1.55 lakh.

“We’re additionally going through monumental strain, resistance and threats from merchants to not strategy farmers immediately,” Faik shares. “We additionally acquired to some extent the place we needed to shut the corporate twice as a result of there was no cash. This made us change our enterprise fashions thrice to get to at least one crop of bananas.”

“For now, our platform is working on a singular mannequin, which empowers retailers and all current stakeholders as effectively,” he provides.

Constructing an ecosystem

The corporate sells bananas to B2B wholesale consumers corresponding to chip producers, export brokers and huge wholesalers. Whereas the startup shouldn’t be but worthwhile, Fariq is actively concerned in investing in analysis and improvement.

Greenikk, which has a community of 10,000 farmers, grew by 300% in FY22, with gross sales of Rs 1.58 crore. Fariq shared that the startup is predicted to finish the present monetary 12 months at Rs 6 crore.

“Our product is a know-how platform (each bodily and digital) accessible to all stakeholders,” the staff shares.

Monetary Empowerment Facilities throughout the banana rising belts will present complete agricultural services and products to farmers. The digital platforms will join all banana stakeholders collectively, enabling them to entry financing and different amenities corresponding to shopping for/promoting the product.

“We can even get completed value-added merchandise constituted of bananas (banana flakes, banana powder, banana wine) whereas its waste will probably be used to make banana fibres, handicrafts and textile merchandise – all below our personal model,” he provides. Greenikk is at present promoting these merchandise by way of a platform known as Vimala Welfare, and is trying to promote on e-commerce platforms corresponding to Amazon within the close to future.

The startup features a 12-member staff and caterers to purchasers corresponding to Past Snacks (Shark Tank Funded), Tierra Meals, Chedda Meals Mumbai, Kozhikodens, Casco Mumbai, Vimala Welfare Heart and Reshamandi.

Greenikk at present competes with Vegrow, INi Farms and Desai Farms.

Completed fiber merchandise made by Greenikk utilizing agricultural waste (pseudostem)

Market and finance

India has practically 1,300 agricultural startups. It ranks third on the planet for receiving agricultural know-how funding, in accordance with a report by Bain & Firm. In response to the EY report, market connectivity and provide chain is predicted to exceed $12 billion market potential by 2025.

Early this month, Greenikk raised Rs 5.04 crore in seed funding led by 9 Unicorn Ventures; Kerala-based angel group Good Spark Ventures; Manish Modi, who heads Mastermind Capital Ventures in Mauritius; Saurabh Agarwal and Mayank Tiwari, founders of Richamandi; and Arjun Pillai, Board Member of Zoom data.

Plans forward

The corporate plans to arrange a mannequin farm in Theni and Metupalayam districts of Tamil Nadu, the place the newest banana cultivation practices will probably be used. Farak says these will function a mannequin for farmers across the belt

The startup can even arrange craft items (from fiber to trend) in Kochi, Kerala; Pagan, Tamil Nadu, to remodel pure banana fiber into worth added merchandise.

In Tamil Nadu, the corporate plans to arrange two agricultural enter and assortment workplaces to conduct farmer engagement programmes, advertising and advisory companies and sale of banana associated agricultural inputs.

Farik shares that Greenikk desires to achieve 50,000 farmers within the subsequent 15 months and increase empowerment facilities throughout Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.