June 15, 2024

BENGALURU EXPRESS

Truth Triumphs

‘AgroVision’ focuses on start-up

Bangalore: The government of Karnataka is encouraging start-ups, and technology entrepreneurs in agriculture and allied sectors besides facilitating direct market linkages between Agri/food tech companies & FPOs as a pilot in a few Districts, Dr.C.N.Ashwatha Narayana, Minister for IT/BT, said on Friday.
Speaking here on ‘Transforming Agriculture through Technology, innovation, Startups’ at the inaugural session of the mega agro event of Central India ‘Agrovision’ he told, “We have achieved  Rs. 7 crores worth of linkages to garner an additional income of 1.2cr to farmers and gross margin of over 80L to FPOs”.
Saying, there is a need to make farmers ‘micro entrepreneurs’ and re-imagine the agriculture value chain from their perspective, he opined, “The next generation of farmers in rural parts will be digital-savvy due to technology penetration such as broadband and mobile usage. In this context, we need to think about ensuring improved yields, better productivity, and creating direct market linkages.”  
Today novel technology is able to provide real-time advisory on inputs required for respective crops, near-accurate weather forecast, post-harvest machines can sort 18 tonnes of fruit in less than 3 hours into different grades, enable soil testing and reporting in less than 30 minutes, AI & Machine Learning can be used to estimate actual crop harvested and assess damage due to natural calamities, Narayana explained.
Currently, agri-tech startups are booming in the country, and more than Rs. 5,000 Cr investments have flowed into the sector in the last 11 months and more than 70 startups are engaged providing direct farmer linkages of about Rs 8000 crore facilitating direct purchase from farmers. This has helped in improving the income of farmers by 1.5 to 2 times. ‘Local efforts and global benefits’ should be our mantra. For example, focusing on post-harvest solutions at Districts/taluka levels can result in increasing farmers’ income by 20%, Narayana emphasised.
“Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modiji, is leading the way forward by introducing agricultural reforms in the country. Each startup can adopt 5-10 villages in Districts to create awareness of technology intervention to our Farmers. Between 2017 and 2020, the country has received about $1 billion in agrotech funding. Between 2022-2025, this should triple to catalyse digitalisation speed and ensure farmers have higher income generation opportunities,” he pointed out. 
However, despite higher investments, we are still scratching the surface. We need ten times more start-ups in Agriculture in India. The current 1000-odd start-up ecosystem in Agriculture can solve only a small percentage of challenges. It is estimated that technology, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit can potentially create a market of around $35 billion in e-sales of agricultural products, Narayana stated. 
“Though to 55% of country’s population depends on agriculture our contribution to world agricultural trade is less than 2.15% and just 15% to the GDP. This needs to be reversed and ensure India is not just a hi-tech capital of the world, but also the agro-tech capital of the world,” he opined.
Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Agriculture Minister, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Surface Transport were among a few who were present.

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