Leading Agriculture Technology Platform, HFN, Raises US$4 Million from Social Capital
Harvesting Farmer Network (HFN), a leading agriculture technology platform in India, has raised US$4 million from Social Capital, a Silicon Valley-based technology investment firm managed by Chamath Palihapitiya. This is the first institutional round raised by HFN, which will be used to reach the more than 120 million smallholder farmers across India, as well as explore opportunities in India's rural markets.
Harvesting Farmer Network helps smallholder farmers (defined by the UN as a farmer owning less than 2 hectares of land) in India to increase their income by empowering them with a collective bargaining platform. Through HFN's trusted platform, farmers are able to easily buy high-quality and affordable farm inputs, access financial services such as loans and insurance, as well as sell their crops to national and international customers – all luxuries typically only available to large-scale farms – enabling them to scale and grow their businesses.
Founded by Ruchit Garg during the Covid-19 pandemic, HFN was created to reduce the friction between farmers and buyers, initially by enabling them to connect directly on Twitter. Since then, more than US$500 million of crops, consisting of over 360 crop varieties, have been listed on HFN's digital platform from every state across India. These crops have been sold domestically as well as to international markets. A global agricultural powerhouse, India produces more than $275 billion of crops annually.
As of August 2022, more than 3.7 million farmers are digitally connected to the HFN platform, and as a result of partnering with HFN, farmers have increased their crop earnings by up to 2.5X due to HFN's more efficient and consolidated supply chain. Recently, many forward-thinking farmers have even launched offline centres known as "HFN Kisan Centres" ("kisan" translates to farmer from Hindi) to help fellow local farmers sell their crops and buy staple inputs such as seeds and fertilizer at affordable prices.
Ruchit G Garg, Founder CEO of HFN, said: "At HFN, our goal is to help farmers realize their full potential by reducing the plethora of inefficiencies across the agriculture value chain. Simple and widely-available technologies like WhatsApp and Twitter have allowed us to create massive data-driven farmer co-operatives, which allows farmers to negotiate better rates for farm inputs and more competitive prices for outputs. Our farmer-first approach has enabled us to build unique trust with our farmer-partners, giving us a strong foundation for long-term growth. With this new backing from Social Capital, we will be able to accelerate our growth and further scale our platform as we look to give India's 120 million smallholder farmers the opportunities they deserve."
Jay Zaveri, Partner at Social Capital, said: "In our world of increasingly complex geopolitics and amidst a rapidly deteriorating climate crisis, there is an urgent need for increased and better food security. India is one of the bread baskets of the world and we're excited to partner with HFN to bring a safe, secure, and empowering platform to the more than 120 million smallholder farmers across India. Our goal is to enable Indian households to access high-quality farm produce and for farmers to build a profitable livelihood through HFN."
HFN plans to use the new funding to rapidly expand its footprint across India, and over the next 12 months, it expects to connect farmers in every single one of India's 708 districts across the country.