As reported by Norman Harsono in the Jakarta Post (found here):

Singapore-based Grab has recently selected 10 early-stage start-ups to join its second Grab Ventures Velocity accelerator program, which focuses on companies that either help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) or farmers in Southeast Asia. The start-ups, which are involved in the empowerment of MSMEs, include MyCash Online, PergiUmroh, Porter, Qoala and Tamasia while the remaining five, Treedots, GLife,  Eragano, Sayurbox and Tanihub are part of the emerging agriculture technology (agritech) industry that focuses on farmers. Three of the five agritech start-ups, Eragano, Sayurbox and Tanihub, are Indonesian companies while the remaining two are Singaporean.

The 16-week program, which is part of Grab’s Rp 3 trillion (US$212 million) investment in Indonesia, will provide training for the businesses to enable them to benefit from the ride-hailing company’s ecosystem. If the start-ups perform well, Grab, a company valued at over $10 billion, will either invest in or partner with them. The ride-hailing giant’s focus on agritech indicates investor readiness to finance the industry beyond early-stage funding. In fact, TaniHub announced in June that investors had injected $10 million in Series A funds.

Indonesia’s agritech scene emerged in 2015 when some of today’s notable players such as TaniHub, Sayurbox, LimaKilo, Eragano, Crowde and iGrow were founded. The former three start-ups are farm-to-table e-marketplaces, which allow buyers to buy fresh produce directly from farmers, while the latter two are peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms, which allow farmers to secure capital.

The head of Grab ventures, Chris Yeo, told reporters in Jakarta on June 17 that the company chose the agritech industry because it saw huge market potential in upgrading Southeast Asia’s agricultural sector, particularly that of Indonesia. “These startups are already serving 30,000 farmers,” said Yeo, “It’s a very good starting point but we think there’s so much more potential. Just look at the numbers, there are 35 million farmers in Indonesia alone.” His statement captured the prevailing optimism of the agritech industry even though the local market is riddled with challenges such as poor infrastructure and digital literacy.

Last year’s world’s logistics performance index ranked Indonesia 46th out of 160 countries, lower than neighboring Thailand ( 32nd ), Vietnam ( 39th ) and Malaysia ( 41st ). As such, most of Indonesia’s agritech operations are centered in Java, which enjoys the best infrastructure including roads, railways and internet connectivity. Meanwhile, the Communications and Information Ministry recorded only 9 percent of small entrepreneurs were capable of using e-commerce platforms, including farm-to-table online markets.

TaniHub cofounder Pamitra Wineka said his company’s partnership with Grab was one solution to overcome both problems. The e-marketplace aims to capture as new customers all of Grab’s food merchants, who would have the necessary logistical channels and literacy to take advantage of e-commerce. According to a recent survey by research company Tenggara Strategics, Grab registered at least 218,000 food merchants in Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Makassar and Medan last year.