On October 9th, I recorded probably one of the most important town hall conversations in the brief history of Agribusiness Matters.
I am not exaggerating one bit when I say this. The visceral impact of the conversation was such that I felt a strong urge to take a break from writing Agribusiness Matters and come back only when I felt ready to write and report this conversation and take my ongoing agritech commentary forward.
In the work I do as an “agritech analyst”, writing the kind of things I write in Agribusiness Matters to agritech founders, investors and executives (all you wonderful people who have gifted me with the possibility of making this occupassion economically viable), nothing felt more important than smelling the coffee and asking an honest, self-reflexive question, “Is Agritech Party Over?”
Sure, it was a provocative question that was meant to turn the heat knob just enough to keep things real and unfiltered, especially when I am dialoguing with agritech industry luminaries like Mark Kahn (better epitomised in his Twitter handle: @agri_technology that dates back to Oct’09) and industry seers like Shubhang Shankar who created a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in agritech circles when he wrote in Aug’20 that ‘there is no disruption in AgTech’.
I turned on the paywall of Agribusiness Matters in Oct’20 precisely around the time when I wrote, “Will the Real Agritech Platform Please Stand Up?”, started chatting extensively with Mark and Shubhang and took on the open, permissionless role of an “agritech Analyst”, or an agritech cartographer to be more precise, writing week after week to document (for future historians) how agritech evolved across the world in smallholding contexts in the nick of time when the digital transformation of food and agriculture systems were unfolding in a warming planet.
And so you can probably imagine how deeply personal this conversation felt to me, anchoring this dialogue to take stock of where things are with the same people I started this journey with, in the first place.
Is Agritech Party Over?
If you look at the numbers, you will perhaps get a glimpse of what it means to be, in Mark’s words, in a hangover of a party that got over a year ago.
Trust the numbers to tell us what it was to ride the highway in 2022 going 150 kilometres an hour.
“India's agri-tech sector witnessed an investment boom in FY22, its most successful year attracting venture capital funding, with investments totaling US$ 1,279 million. This surge was followed by a sharp contraction in FY23, a trend aligned with the broader global slump in agri-tech investments (See Figure 1). Between FY22 and FY23, investments in Indian agri-tech fell by a staggering 45% to US$ 706 million, while global agri-tech investments saw a decline of 10% from US$ 19.6 billion to US$ 17.7 billion between calendar years 2022 and 2023.” - India’s Unfolding Agritech Story Report
Exactly a year ago, in Oct’22, when I did a detailed reality check on the Agritech Hype Cycle, I sketched this Gartner hype curve
One year later, in Oct’23, the Indian Agritech Hype Cycle currently looks like this