Social venture capital investor has made an equity investment of Rs 9 crore ($2 million) into BASIX Krishi Samruddhi Ltd. Part of Vijay Mahajan’s Basix Group, the company provides agriculture-related support and business development services to farmers.
Set up in April 2010, BASIX Krishi provides a plethora of services like soil testing, seed treatment, vermicomposting, pest management and good harvesting practices for crop farmers; and livestock vaccination, para-vet services, fodder demonstration and milk market linkages for dairy farmers. The firm charges fees for its services and operates through a network of ‘livelihood service providers’.
BASIX Krishi plans to expand to 67 branches, serving nearly 350,000 farmer customers over the next two years. Currently, it has 32 branches across states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar and Punjab.
“The BASIX Krishi model can increase smallholder farmers’ income by an estimated 30 per cent through a combination of improved productivity and reduced input costs,” said Siddharth Tata, Acumen Fund’s agriculture portfolio manager. “Besides helping improve farmers’ livelihood, this investment allows us to build on our knowledge base in the agri-inputs sector, providing valuable insights into how smallholder farmers make decisions on improving their farms’ productivity,” he added.
Of the 100 million-plus farms operating in India, nearly 85 per cent are managed by smallholder farmers with less than two hectares of land, according to an Acumen statement. Most of these farmers have no access to quality extension services, making it very difficult to access simple tools and engage in practices that help improve farm productivity.
Acumen has invested $17 million into 11 companies in agricultural services, including Aurangabad-based Global Easy Water Products (low-cost irrigation technology) and Pakistan’s Jassar Farms (dairy and breed improvement farm), among others.
“Through our model, farmers receive personal visits from trained extension workers who support their productivity needs and provide on-call assistance for any query or emergency. Eventually, we envision a world in which all smallholder farmers have access to agricultural extension services that empower them to improve their lives,” said Arijit Dutta, CEO of BASIX Krishi.
Acumen has invested over $30 million in 24 enterprises in India, across sectors like water, health, energy and agricultural services. Some of its recent investments include GUARDIAN, a Tamil Nadu-based MFI focusing on lending to communities who lack access to water and sanitation facilities, and Orb Energy, which provides affordable and renewable energy for off-grid households.