CHENNAI: Social business incubator Villgro, along with four others in the agri startup space, has invested Rs 1 crore in Bengaluru-based micro irrigation startup FlyBird Farm Innovations. Rianta Capital’s Artha Initiative, IIM Ahmedabad’s incubation centre (CIIE), National Academy of Agricultural Research and Management’s a-IDEA and Centre for Incubation and Business Acceleration are the other investors.

Founded by Satish KS, FlyBird is developing an affordable smart irrigation controller to help small farmers’ micro-irrigate their crops. “Currently the products used by our farmers cost Rs 12,000. We are developing a product that would cost around Rs 3,000. A portion of the fresh funding would go into developing the product, which we hope to release by October,” said Satish, adding that the remainder of the funding would go towards expansion in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and other districts of Karnataka.

“Micro-irrigation has become a necessary and FlyBird has a rugged product that is consistently performing well and has scope for scalability,” says AB Chakravarthy, senior investment manager, Villgro, an NGO formely known as Rural Innovations Network.
Chakravarthy adds that consecutive droughts have precipitated an acute crisis – in which water for irrigation needs to be bought. “Our investment has come in at the right time as Flybird’s product fits the bill.” Vipul Patel, AVP, agri investments, CIIE, says that while the market is filled with expensive products, Flybird’s affordable product stands apart with its sensor-based approach to irrigation.