Omnivore commits to fruit machinery company, eyes Fund II

Omnivore Partners, the Indian venture capital firm focusing on agtech, has invested into Mitra, a machinery company. The firm's Fund I is now 50 percent deployed.

Omnivore Partners has invested an undisclosed amount into Mitra, the Indian fruit cultivation machinery company.

The firm’s Rs 2.6 billion ($43.1 million; €31.2 million) first fund has taken a significant minority stake in the company, according to Mark Kahn, founding partner at Omnivore.

This is Mitra’s second round of fundraising after conducting a seed capital round in October 2012, when Unilazer Ventures, the Indian consumer-centric venture capital firm, committed to the company.

The new funding will go towards building a manufacturing facility for affordable machinery that can be used in fruit and vegetable orchards. The machinery can perform tasks such as spraying crops and aims to reduce the need for labour.

“Acute labour shortage and lack of mechanisation is leading to a rise in production costs and a drop in quality of produce,” says the Mitra website.

The funds will also contribute to further research and development and to ramping up the company’s sales and marketing, according to Kahn. “The company is ready to scale,” he told Agri Investor. “It is providing for an unfulfilled niche in India.”

Omnivore’s connection to Mitra dates back to the beginning, shortly after Mitra’s founder and chief executive Devneet Bajaj finished his MBA at Insead. Before his MBA, Bajaj worked at Fox Paine, the US private equity firm, specialising in agribusiness across Australia, Brazil, Europe and the US.

Bajaj has also worked as an investment banker in the US. He moved back to India with the goal of changing Indian agriculture, says the Mitra site.

Omnivore’s Fund I is now around 50 percent deployed across nine investments and Kahn’s team is aiming to invest into three more companies before the end of March 2015. A second fund is likely to launch shortly after.