Agritech startup Greenikk is building a digital ecosystem for banana farmers

College friends Farooq Naushad and Previn Jacob Varghese have always been inclined towards entrepreneurship.

During their college days, they started a company called Invento Technology Solutions which developed a platform for housewives to sell food online. Later, in 2016, they started a software solutions company called Teczium Solutions in Rwanda. While the company managed to close $750,000 worth of deals within 12 months of operations, Farik and Pervin were still unhappy. They wanted to build something for India and India.

Lay this foundation for greenikk. According to the founding partners, after they returned to India in 2019, they were intrigued by the sustainability push, which led them to build a product in the field of agriculture.

Thiruvananthapuram-based Greenikk is currently building a digital ecosystem focused on banana plantations. The agritech platform has built Empowerment Centers (EC) to provide farmers with required support such as financing, seeds, crop advisory, insurance coverage, agricultural inputs including weather advice, and market connectivity, covering the full scope of production and marketing at home and abroad.

According to the founders, the startup aims to solve problems for every stakeholder in the entire banana value chain – from banana growers and processing units to commission agents, B2B bulk buyers and fiber buyers. The startup also takes banana waste and turns it into dung and banana fibre.

“We are the first integrated platform in the banana value chain that provides end-to-end support (from financing/insurance to marketing the product and getting value from waste). In fact, this will increase the revenues of every stakeholder in the banana value chain,” Farak says.

As of now, the startup has established ECs in some of the major banana producing agricultural belts in the country like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.

How did you start?

In 2019, there was a ban on single-use plastics in India. This gave Previn the idea of ​​turning papaya stalks into sustainable straw. Pervin and Fariq worked with a scientist to produce the final product and presented it at the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge held at IIM Calcutta. Greenikk has also been recognized as one of the top 3 social startups in the country in 2020.

The company continued to work with papaya traders and growers through 2020. However, during the pandemic, the team had to put this project on hold due to rising costs and the hospitality sector stalling.

Meanwhile, the company was still receiving inquiries if it could help distribute fruit from the network it had built. The team also got ideas from working with the central government’s BIRAC fellowship program, working with farmers to build a B2C model for purchasing fresh produce and delivering it to customers. This model also got the company an initial investment from a US-based investor.

Once the economy opened up, Greenikk shifted to a B2B model as there was more room for growth.

“Other than being a digital merchant, we couldn’t add any value. So, as founders, we came to the conclusion — why not focus on a bunch of crops, or maybe at least one crop to start with, and then dig deeper into it,” the team shares.

This made them narrow their focus to an overarching crop – bananas, as India is also the largest producer of bananas globally.

Finished fiber products made by Greenikk using agricultural waste (pseudostem)


Organizing a 200-year-old supply chain for fruits and vegetables requires some real effort at the ground level, Farak says. The company was initially cheated out of the money of its shareholders. Fariq recalls a case where one day a whole truckload of bananas went missing and they found out that they had been cheated by a trader, causing a loss of Rs 1.55 lakh.

“We are also facing enormous pressure, resistance and threats from traders not to approach farmers directly,” Faik shares. “We also got to a point where we had to close the company twice because there was no money. This made us change our business models three times to get to one crop of bananas.”

“For now, our platform is running on a unique model, which empowers merchants and all existing stakeholders as well,” he adds.

Building an ecosystem

The company sells bananas to B2B wholesale buyers such as chip manufacturers, export agents and large wholesalers. While the startup is not yet profitable, Fariq is actively involved in investing in research and development.

Greenikk, which has a network of 10,000 farmers, grew by 300% in FY22, with sales of Rs 1.58 crore. Fariq shared that the startup is expected to end the current financial year at Rs 6 crore.

“Our product is a technology platform (both physical and digital) accessible to all stakeholders,” the team shares.

Financial Empowerment Centers across the banana growing belts will provide comprehensive agricultural products and services to farmers. The digital platforms will connect all banana stakeholders together, enabling them to access financing and other facilities such as buying/selling the product.

“We will also get finished value-added products made from bananas (banana flakes, banana powder, banana wine) while its waste will be used to make banana fibres, handicrafts and textile products – all under our own brand,” he adds. Greenikk is currently selling these products through a platform called Vimala Welfare, and is looking to sell on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon in the near future.

The startup includes a 12-member team and caterers to clients such as Beyond Snacks (Shark Tank Funded), Tierra Foods, Chedda Foods Mumbai, Kozhikodens, Casco Mumbai, Vimala Welfare Center and Reshamandi.

Greenikk currently competes with Vegrow, INi Farms and Desai Farms.

Finished fiber products made by Greenikk using agricultural waste (pseudostem)

Market and finance

India has nearly 1,300 agricultural startups. It ranks third in the world for receiving agricultural technology funding, according to a report by Bain & Company. According to the EY report, market connectivity and supply chain is expected to exceed $12 billion market potential by 2025.

Early this month, Greenikk raised Rs 5.04 crore in seed funding led by 9 Unicorn Ventures; Kerala-based angel group Smart Spark Ventures; Manish Modi, who heads Mastermind Capital Ventures in Mauritius; Saurabh Agarwal and Mayank Tiwari, founders of Richamandi; and Arjun Pillai, Board Member of Zoom info.

Plans ahead

The company plans to set up a model farm in Theni and Metupalayam districts of Tamil Nadu, where the latest banana cultivation practices will be used. Farak says these will serve as a model for farmers around the belt

The startup will also set up craft units (from fiber to fashion) in Kochi, Kerala; Pagan, Tamil Nadu, to transform natural banana fiber into value added products.

In Tamil Nadu, the company plans to set up two agricultural input and collection offices to conduct farmer engagement programmes, marketing and advisory services, and sale of banana related agricultural inputs.

Farik shares that Greenikk wants to reach 50,000 farmers in the next 15 months and expand empowerment centers across Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.