Unitus Seed Fund backs Indian start-up VillFarm

Early-stage investor Unitus Seed Fund has led an investment round in India's VillFarm, a start-up which produces a range of organic agri inputs for Indian farmers.

Early-stage US investor Unitus Seed Fund has led a new investment round in India’s VillFarm, a start-up which produces a range of organic agri inputs for Indian farmers.

Unitus led the investment, the size of which was undisclosed, from its $23 million fund. The firm was joined by other investors including Zurich-based Rianta Capital and angel investors.

Bangalore’s Villfarm offers proprietary, organic agri-input products across categories such as land preparation, seed treatment, active growth flowering and fruiting and pest management. In a statement the company said it will use the new funds “to continue to build its product lines and to expand distribution across South India”.

“There is a large potential to disrupt the agricultural sector by providing superior quality inputs that result in improved yields as well as farming sustainability. We believe that Villfarm is well-poised to develop a market leadership position in this growing segments,” Dave Richards, managing partner at Unitus Seed Fund said.

The investor said that “inorganic solutions have been over-used (in India) resulting in compromises to crop-input efficiency, soil health and the environment. In response, there has been a surge in demand for alternative organic products.”

Based in Seattle, Unitus Seed Fund was founded in 2012 and closed its first fund, a $23 million vehicle, in April this year. The fund is backed by a large number of foundations including the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, founded by Dell computers chief executive Michael Dell. The fund has a 16-strong portfolio which it is aiming to grow to around 30 investments.

The firm is part of the Unitus Group, an impact-orientated financial services group based in the US which provides services and products across emerging markets.