Agro-biz startup kick-starts end-to-end supply chain for bananas

India’s first full-stack supply chain that would connect banana cultivators, traders and exporters on a single platform

In what could be termed a pioneering effort, an agro-business startup in Kerala has ventured into building India’s first full-stack supply chain that would connect banana cultivators, traders and exporters on a single platform. The new venture will look to tap into the country’s surging exports of the nutrient-rich fruit with the potential for a strong global brand for its value added products.

Greenikk, a startup co-founded by young techies Fariq Naushad and Previn Jacob, will seamlessly connect banana farmers, dealers, wholesalers, and B2B buyers in the country, the world’s largest banana producer. Greenikk has built Enablement Centres (EC) in the major banana producing agri-belts, in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Enablement Centres in major banana producing agri-belts

These ECs will provide the farmers with required support such as finance, seeds, crop advisory, insurance coverage, agri inputs, including weather tips, and market connect, covering the entire gamut of production and marketing both inside the country and outside. Similar ECs are planned in other south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and further scaling across the whole of India.

The platform, envisaged as an innovative and promising initiative, will help farmers convert stems of the post-harvest banana plants into natural fibre and re-purpose the other leftovers as manure or poultry feed. Noting that almost 20 crore post-harvest plant stems are being burnt or wasted every year, the Greenikk promoters said their aim is to ensure supplementary income for farmers through value addition of the wasted materials, besides helping curb air pollution.

“While venturing into this uncharted territory, the question that we often confronted was what made us to choose bananas, of all fruits available in the country. Having worked closely with some banana farmers, dealers, and buyers, we realised that it has the maximum potential among the fruits grown in India, if linked to a strong and reliable value chain that would scale up exports,” said Fariq and Previn.

India accounts for around 25 per cent of the world’s banana production, and the country’s exports of this fruit have grown eight-fold in the last nine years.

The National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB) has reported that India produced 32.6 million tons of bananas in 2020 with a land area of 9.6 lakh hectares under cultivation. There are more than 10 million stakeholders too. The domestic market size is pegged at around $18 billion.

India yet to capture global market for banana-based products

Though countries like the US and the UK have just one-third of India’s production, they own most of the popular global brands of value-added banana products. India, with a huge capacity for banana exports, is yet to capture the huge global market for banana-based snacks, health and nutrient supplements. What Greenikk is looking at is to place Indian banana on a strong supply chain with global reach, which will ultimately benefit the farmers.

The shortcomings in the country’s agro system have prevented the realisation of the enormous export potential of bananas. We have launched this technology-driven platform to remove the inefficiencies in the banana value chain besides addressing the problems of various stakeholders, the Greenikk promoters said.

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