Agritech startup Greenikk is building a digital ecosystem for banana farmers

Agritech startup Greenikk is building a digital ecosystem for banana farmers

College associates Fariq Naushad and Previn Jacob Varghese have been at all times inclined in direction of entrepreneurship.

During their school days, they began a firm referred to as Invento Technology Solutions that developed a platform for homemakers to promote meals on-line. Later, in 2016, they began a software program options firm referred to as Teczium Solutions in Rwanda. While the corporate managed to shut offers price $750,000 inside 12 months of operations, Fariq and Pervin have been nonetheless sad. They needed to construct one thing for India and in India.

This laid the muse to greenikk. According to the co-founders, after returning to India in 2019, they have been intrigued by the sustainability push, which made them construct a product within the agri area.

Thiruvananthapuram-based Greenikk is presently building a banana farmer-centric digital ecosystem. The agritech platform has constructed Enablement Centres (EC) to offer farmers with the required assist reminiscent of finance, seeds, crop advisory, insurance coverage protection, agri inputs, together with climate suggestions, and market join, overlaying the whole gamut of manufacturing and advertising each inside and outdoors the nation.

According to the founders, the startup goals to unravel issues for each stakeholder in the whole banana worth chain–from banana farmers and processing models to fee brokers, bulk B2B patrons, and fibre patrons. The startup additionally takes banana waste and converts it into manure and banana fibre.

“We are the primary full stack platform within the banana worth chain that gives end-to-end assist (ranging from finance/insurance coverage to advertising the produce and getting worth from waste). It, in truth, will improve the income for each stakeholder within the banana worth chain,” says Fariq.

As of now, the startup has established ECs in a number of the main banana producing agri belts within the nation reminiscent of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.

How it began?

In 2019, there was a ban on single-use plastics in India. This gave Previn the thought to transform papaya petiole into a sustainable straw. Pervin and Fariq labored with a scientist to deliver out the top product and offered it on the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge held at IIM Calcutta. Greenikk additionally gained recognition as one of many prime 3 social startups within the nation in 2020.

The firm continued to work with papaya sellers and farmers till 2020. But in the course of the pandemic, the staff needed to put this undertaking on maintain as the prices have been going excessive and the hospitality sector went into a standstill.

Meanwhile, the corporate was nonetheless getting inquiries if it may assist with the distribution of the fruit from the community it had constructed. The staff additionally acquired insights from working with the central authorities’s BIRAC fellowship programme, the place it labored with farmers to construct a B2C mannequin of procuring and delivering contemporary produce to prospects. This mannequin additionally acquired the corporate an preliminary funding from a US-based investor.

Once the economic system opened up, Greenikk pivoted to a B2B mannequin as there was extra scope for development.

“Other than being a digital dealer, we couldn’t add any worth. So, as founders, we got here to the conclusion–why not concentrate on a set of crops, or possibly at the very least one crop to begin with, after which go deep into it,” shares Fariq.

This made them slender down their focus to an all-round crop—banana, as India is additionally the best producer of banana globally.


Finished fibre merchandise made by Greenikk utilizing agricultural waste ( pseudostem)


Organising a 200-year-old vegetables and fruit provide chain requires some actual floor stage effort, says Fariq. The firm was initially cheated out of cash from its stakeholders. Fariq recollects an occasion when a whole truckload of banana went lacking at some point they usually discovered they acquired cheated by a vendor, inflicting them a lack of Rs 1.55 lakh. 

“We additionally face super stress, resistance, and threats from sellers to not strategy farmers instantly,” shares Fariq. “We had additionally reached a stage the place we needed to shut down the corporate twice due to zero money. This made us change our enterprise fashions thrice to land into the only crop of banana.”

“Right now, our platform works on a distinctive mannequin, which empowers the sellers and all the prevailing stakeholders too,” he provides.

Building an ecosystem

The firm sells bananas to bulk B2B patrons like chips producers, export brokers, and huge wholesalers. While the startup is but to be worthwhile, Fariq shares they’re actively investing in R&D.

Greenikk, which has a community of 10,000 farmers, grew 300% in FY 22, with gross sales of Rs 1.58 crore. Fariq shared the startup is projected to finish the present monetary 12 months at Rs 6 crore.

“Our product is a know-how platform (bodily & digital) that each one the stakeholders can entry,” Fariq shares.

Physical enablement centres throughout banana-growing belts will present end-to-end farming companies and merchandise to the farmers. Digital platforms will hyperlink all of the banana stakeholders collectively, enabling them to entry finance and different services reminiscent of shopping for/promoting of the produce.

“We can even be having finish value-added-products created from bananas (chips, banana powder, banana wine) whereas its waste stems will probably be used for making banana fibre, handicraft, and textile merchandise—all underneath our personal model,” provides Fariq. Greenikk is presently promoting these merchandise via a platform referred to as Vimala Welfare, and is trying to promote on ecommerce platforms like Amazon within the close to future.

The startup has a 12-member staff and carters to purchasers like Beyond Snacks (Shark Tank Funded), Tierra Foods, Chedda Foods Mumbai, Kozhikodens, Casco Mumbai, Vimala Welfare Centre, and Reshamandi. 

Greenikk is presently competing with Vegrow, INi farms, and Desai Farms. 


Finished fibre merchandise made by Greenikk utilizing agricultural waste ( pseudostem)

The market and funding

India has near 1,300 agri startups. It is the third largest on the planet when it comes to receiving agritech funding, based on a report by Bain & Company. According to an EY report, the market linkage and provide chain is anticipated to cross $12 billion in market potential by 2025.

Early this month, Greenikk raised Rs 5.04 crore in pre-seed funding led by 9 Unicorn Ventures; Kerala-based angel group Smart Spark Ventures; Manish Modi, who heads Mauritius-based Mastermind Capital Ventures; Saurabh Agarwal and Mayank Tiwari, founders of Reshamandi; and Arjun Pillai, who sits within the board of Zoom information.

Plans forward

The firm plans to have a mannequin farm setup in Theni and Mettupalayam Districts of Tamil Nadu, the place newest banana farming practices will probably be used. These will act as a mannequin to the farmers across the belt, says Fariq

The startup can even arrange artisan models (fibre to trend) in Kochi, Kerala; and Theni, Tamil Nadu, to covert pure banana fibre into worth added merchandise.

In Tamil Nadu, the corporate plans to create two agri enter and assortment places of work to conduct farmer engagement programmes, advertising and advisory companies, and sale of agri inputs associated to banana.

Fariq shares that Greenikk desires to achieve out to 50,000 farmers within the subsequent 15 months and broaden enablement centres throughout Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.