OTW portfolio company ‘Ficus Biotech’ is modernizing agriculture in Nepal

OTW portfolio company ‘Ficus Biotech’ is modernizing agriculture in Nepal

Established in 2015 by a group of three fresh BioTech graduates, Anuroop Manandhar, Durlav Karki, and Santosh Dahal, Ficus Bio-Tech adopts plant tissue culture to produce commercially viable seeds, which ensures better harvest for farmers. Ficus applies a technology that is similar to cloning, which enables mass production of quality plantlets and seedlings.

Knowing that the field of biotech is at a nascent stage in Nepal and a great deal of work needs to be done to take the sector to new heights, the founders entered this field and started Ficus Biotech in 2015. Echoing the same vision, One To Watch invested in Ficus in 2017. With the investment from OTW, Ficus set up their laboratory and greenhouse facility and began full-fledged production. Till date, Ficus has worked with around 5,000 farmers (smallholders and commercial) and has clients in 55 districts across Nepal.

Almost 70% of Nepal’s population is directly engaged in agriculture, while contributing 25% to the country’s GDP. Hence, the tremendous potential of agriculture and biotechnology to modernize agriculture in Nepal is quite evident. With a view to make Nepal self-reliant in agriculture production, ‘Prime Minister Agriculture Modernization Project (PMAMP)’ was designed in 2016 with a 10-year term. The project aims to promote commercialization of agriculture through development of infrastructure and technology.

Ficus has successfully secured an NPR 2 million grant under this program. Similarly, Ficus have secured additional agricultural grant from Bagmati Province amounting to NPR 4 million. Ficus shall utilize these grants to add and upgrade machinery in their lab and greenhouse which shall produce higher and better yield to farmers.

It is encouraging to witness such programs being implemented at the national level. The benefits of such programs are twofold: Firstly, it helps agri-based companies who are still at an early stage to become self-sustainable and gradually transition to a profitable business. Secondly, emerging companies in the agri-sector are also motivated to adopt innovative and modern agricultural technologies into their businesses.