The logo of e-commerce company Flipkart at its headquarters in Bangalore. Photo: AFP

Walmart and Flipkart have announced they will jointly invest US$145 million in Ninjacart, a fresh produce supply chain startup. This funding will help the Bangalore-based Ninjacart invest in technology and scale up its footprint in organizing the agricultural ecosystem.

“This investment will further accelerate Ninjacart’s journey towards building technology and infrastructure to organize, empower and enhance the lives of millions of agri-value chain participants including farmers, resellers, retailers, consumers and supply chain participants,” the companies said in a statement.

Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy said: “Our investment and partnership in Ninjacart over the years is a testament to the continued commitment and success we have seen in our endeavor to create a democratic and organized agriculture market. At Flipkart, we are well poised and committed to building a sustainable ecosystem for fresh produce and uplift the communities associated with it in the process.”

Ninjacart co-founder and CEO Thirukumaran Nagarajan said: “The funds will enable us to dream beyond organizing the farmer-to-retailer ecosystem to a much larger goal of organizing the complete Agri ecosystem and enabling transparent commerce.”

Thanking Flipkart and Walmart for their continued support, he said: “India is at the cusp of formalizing the agriculture industry, with the advent of better road connectivity, GST, seamless payments, digital infrastructure, etc. This opens up a tremendous opportunity to organize our Agri ecosystem landscape like never before.”

He said the funds will be deployed to build “world-class teams, scalable tech platforms to organize and grow the network.” In October last year, Walmart and the Flipkart Group had invested an undisclosed amount of funding in Ninjacart.

Set up in 2015, Ninjacart has a presence in 150 villages and works closely with more than 1,000,000 farmers to help them generate better revenues. It uses supply chain algorithms, big data and other hi-tech tools to connect farmers with retailers.

It has raised funds from investors such as Tiger Global, Accel, Tanglin, Steadview, Syngenta, Nandan Nilekani and Qualcomm, among others. The latest round of funding has pushed Ninjacart’s valuation to $900 million from $500 million during the last funding round.

It is now close to becoming a unicorn, or a startup with a more than $1 billion valuation, the Business Standard reported.

Flipkart offers groceries in 1,800 cities and aims to take its offering to 2,000 more towns by mid-next year. Fresh fruit and vegetables will be an integral part of the expansion. The latest investment is expected to equip Flipkart to take on its online grocery rivals such as Amazon, Reliance’s JioMart and the Tata-backed BigBasket.

Follow KS Kumar on Twitter at: @kskumar0987.