US-headquartered agriculture technology (agtech) startup Ricult has raised $1.85 million in a seed round led by Chanwanich Group, Wavemaker, 500 TukTuks and dtac, it said in an announcement dated June 20.
The startup had previously raised $600,000, including a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, bringing Ricult’s aggregate funding to date to $2.5 million. It is also planning to close a Series A round in June 2019.
Ricult plans to use the fresh funding to expand its market share in Thailand and Pakistan and to grow its team.
“We want to make sure that our technology can really help make the farmer’s lives better and make the agricultural value chain more efficient. We are delighted to find investors who share the same vision and value as us,” said Ricult co-founder and Thailand CEO Aukrit Unahalekhaka.
Founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) alumni, Ricult began as a pilot project in 2016 as part of MIT’s Delta V accelerator programme.
Ricult uses machine learning to analyse satellite imagery and microclimate weather data to offer insights on key farming factors such as potential crop yield, pest attack prevention, proper fertilization, key harvesting time, and optimal crop rotation.
“If you analyze the whole situation of why the farmers are trapped in the cycle of poverty, one of the root causes comes from the farmers’ inability to access capital or have enough of it at sowing time due to the fact that he doesn’t get paid on time when he sells his crop and the middlemen will stagger payment over many months by design.
“This forces the farmer to go back to him for next cycle and that keeps him trapped,” said co-founder and CEO of Pakistan operations Usman Javaid.