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Govt Setting Up Agri Entrepreneurs Cell For Agri Startups 

Pure and Eco India , Nov 21, 2019

On November 19, Dr Ashok Dalwai, CEO, National Rainfed Area Authority (NRRA), Ministry of Agriculture, said that the government is setting up a dedicated Agri Entrepreneurs’ Cell for startups and small entrepreneurs.

Speaking at the 2nd edition of the conference and awards for innovations by agri startups, Nurturing Agri Innovations, Dalwai said that there are numerous areas where startups can help farmers reduce cost and increase income.

He also stressed the need to make a platform for standardised and structured data that can be accessed free of cost. “The biggest problem in getting data is that there is no data standardisation and no structure that can be uniformly interpreted. We need to start looking at building up of a database related to all aspects of agriculture and how it can be digitally translated,” he said.

Underlining the role of several agriculture research centres and institutions, Dalwai said that there was need for a platform where different technologies, already existing, are uploaded and made available to everybody. “Innovation is not invention. It is picking up an idea, which has worked somewhere and make it applicable elsewhere. Create a data platform where these research institutions are able to continuously upload the challenges and solutions so people can work upon them,” he said.

Neelkamal Darbari, Managing Director, Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC), Government of India, said that the role of agri startups comes at the pre-harvest stage by providing value addition to the farmer. Highlighting the role of FPOs (Farmers Producer Organisations), Darbari said that they are still struggling to do business in traditional ways.

The country has approximately 5,000 FPOs and they can act as a vehicle for innovation. “The interface of technology through FPO mechanism is yet to see traction,” she said.

Hemendra Mathur, Chairman, FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry) Taskforce on Agri Startups, and Venture Partner, Bharat Innovation Fund, stressed upon the need for startups to provide innovative solutions to farmers in order to increase their income. He said, “We need to build capacity so that innovations can reach farmers. We can unlock value to the tune of US$ 10 billion through agri innovations and the value that gets unlocked goes to farmers.”

T R Kesavan, Chairman of FICCI National Agriculture Committee and Group President, Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited (TAFE), said, “The past few years have witnessed some positive changes with agri startups and particularly secondary agri business models that are defining rural economics, entering the sector and introducing innovations at different stages of the agriculture value chain. If India is to realise the vision of becoming a global powerhouse in the agriculture sector, it needs stronger partnerships, which are pivotal for rural community-based empowerment.”

Pravesh Sharma, Advisor, FICCI and co-founder and CEO, Kamatan Farm Tech Pvt Ltd, said that the most critical part in agri startups is funding. The role of government is to set rules, policies and it can become a funder of funds.

The FICCI Compendium on Agri Startups, representing 103 case studies was also released during the event.



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 Conference and Awards for Nurturing Agri Innovations by Agri Startups