Soros’ Aspada invests in first Indian ‘farming-as-a-service’ provider

The venture capital investment firm has invested in EM3 AgriServices, a provider of farm operations services aimed at increasing smallholder farmer productivity by 20%.

Aspada Investment Company, a Soros Economic Development Fund company, has invested Rs200 million rupees ($3.1 million; €2.8 million) into a pay-to-use farming machinery and technology company.

EM3 Agri Services, dubbed a “FaaS (farming-as-a-service)” company, aims to enable smallholder farmers in India to improve their production and crop yields without the burden and cost of owning the equipment themselves, according to a press release.

“Pay-for-use service models are, by far, the only solution to the enduring challenge of raising farm productivity without burdening the farmer with significant capital expenditure,” said Rohtash Mal, chairman of EM3 in a statement. “So far, only adjacent opportunities in agriculture such as cold chains and warehouses have drawn serious interest from investors. EM3 is one of the few investments in ‘core’ Indian agriculture aimed at positively enhancing a small hold farmer’s [profit and loss] account.”

EM3 will provide end-to-end precision-grade farm operations from land preparation to crop harvesting on a pay-per-acre basis, helping farmers improve productivity by 20 percent, according to Aspada.

The company will use the investment to create a pan-India network after previously focusing on Madhya Pradesh, and plans to serve tens of thousands of farmers over the next 18 to 24 months. It will invest in its technology platform, enhance soil and chemistry research and generally augment its services and product portfolio, according to the release.

“We believe that EM3 can become India’s first organised small-hold agricultural services platform at scale and will materially improve farm processes and productivity among small farmers in India.” said Kartik Srivatsa, managing partner and co-founder of Aspada.

Aspada has a growing portfolio of agriculture-related companies. In April it invested 200 million rupees in InI Farms, a vertically-integrated horticulture company and in October it invested $2 million into All Fresh Supply Management, a local fruits and vegetables brand.

Read a blog by Aspada’s Srivatsa on FaaS here.