With temperatures rising and extreme weather events like floods, droughts, and heat waves becoming more frequent, it’s evident that climate change is for real. It is already shifting weather patterns and affecting agricultural systems and food security. The recent heat wave in India resulted in an estimated 10-35% reduction in crop yields in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab. The decline in wheat crop yields forced the government to reduce its output forecasts and impose a halt on export of wheat.
“Climate change disruptions impact every aspect of the Indian economy – across sectors like agriculture, industry, and infrastructure. Changing weather patterns, uncertain rainfall and extreme heat waves affect crop yields, resulting in shortages of agricultural goods and higher prices,” says Swapna Gupta, partner, Avaana Capital, an early stage investor in India that has been backing technology and innovation-led startups. “India’s economy will need to become more resilient to these impacts of climate change.”
With this in mind, some of Avaana’s portfolio companies are employing an innovation-led approach to create smart solutions. For instance, Eeki Foods has developed a patented plant growth system for producing high-quality, residue-free and nutritionally fortified staple vegetables that is not impacted by weather conditions and land arability. Eeki’s system uses 80% less water while leading to 3x higher yields.
Abhay Singh and Amit Kumar, the two co-founders at Eeki Foods, feel that current farming practices in India and the world are harmful to resources, as well as human health. Alternatives like organic farming suffer on account of scarcity of cultivable land. “At Eeki, we have developed patented growing chambers that mimic the ideal growing environment for the plant root zone without using any growing media like coco-peat or soil. As a result, we are able to set up farms even on barren land, and save 80% of water as compared to traditional farming. We want to build climate-resilient farms across the globe to address food security and combat climate change,” they say.
Then there is Praan that is building filterless air purification devices for large spaces. “We are building technologies that create an impact at the intersection of climate change and public health. Our filterless air purification devices for large spaces provide scalable solutions for India’s massive air pollution problem,” says Angad Daryani, the founder at Praan. “These devices will be deployed in locations of social value, including schools, hospitals, and industrial areas. We are working on particulate matter capture as well as direct CO2 capture, focusing on industries like steel and cement. We want to help over three billion people around the world breathe cleaner air, at a low cost of Rs 1 per person per day.”
FarMart is another company working in the sustainability space. It claims to be India’s first SaaS-led B2B food supply platform that aggregates supply through its network of agri-retailers and demand from institutional and SME agribusiness buyers. By disintermediating the food value chain, FarMart is able to reduce the number of miles food is transported and, consequently, food wastage – thus lowering the impact of food systems on the climate – as well as increase income resilience for farmers.
“At FarMart we are reimagining how food is bought and sold globally,” reveal the two co-founders, Alekh Sanghera and Mehtab Hans. “We have digitised and leveraged the rural agri-retailer to create sale points located less than 5 km from the farmgate, as against traditional local mandis being located at a distance of ~25-30 km. By reimagining the supply chain, we have reduced the distance travelled by farmers to sell their produce, and cut 530 kilo tonne of CO2 emissions. We are also increasing income resilience for farmers, while reducing the climate footprint of agriculture by encouraging climate-friendly agricultural practices,” they say.
In the transportation sector, there is Turno that is driving mainstream EV adoption by offering a comprehensive solution that reduces the overall cost of EV ownership by 30%. “At Turno we are building for a pollution-free future of transportation,” say its co-founders, Hemanth Aluru and Sudhindra Reddy. “We help buyers choose the right vehicle, and provide them with compelling financing options and residual value guarantee to ease concerns around the salvage value of the vehicle. Turno is using proprietary algorithms to monitor and predict battery life accurately, thereby enabling users to extract maximum value out of their EVs,” they add.
According to Avaana Capital’s Gupta, digitisation of supply chains, especially in essential sectors like agriculture and SME, can help ensure efficiencies, reduce wastage, and create higher resilience among supply chain participants. “Through our fund strategy we are able to push development outcomes and combat climate change,” she sums up.