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Despite growth of agritech - Challenges ahead
Saturday, 18 March, 2023, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Anjali Lokare
The Agricultural sector is the backbone of the Indian economy and the agritech sector has seen tremendous growth in recent years, and this trend is expected to continue into 2023 and beyond.With a population of over 1.3 billion people, India is one of the largest agricultural economies in the world.

This is due to increasing adoption of technology and the government’s push for digitalisation and modernisation in agriculture.

Agritech, a term used to describe the use of technology in agriculture, has the potential to revolutionise the way farming is done in India, making it more efficient, productive and sustainable.

    1. Increasing Adoption of Technology
One of the factors driving the growth of the agritech sector in India is the increasing use of smartphones and other mobile devices. Farmers can now access information about weather, soil conditions, and market prices in real-time, allowing them to make more informed decisions about when and how to plant crops. This information can also be used to optimise irrigation and fertilisation, reducing waste and increasing yields.
One of the most promising areas of agritech in India is precision farming, which involves the use of sensors, drones, and other technologies to monitor crop growth and optimise the use of resources such as water and fertiliser. Precision farming can help farmers reduce their costs and increase their yields, while also minimising the impact on the environment.

In addition to precision farming technologies such as sensors, drones and GPS mapping, agritech start-ups in India are also developing solutions for supply chain management, crop insurance, and farm equipment leasing. These solutions can help farmers access the resources they need to grow their businesses, while also reducing their risk and increasing their profitability with optimisation of use of resources to monitor their crops in real time.

The government’s push for digitalisation in agriculture has created a supportive environment for agritech start-ups and entrepreneurs. The government has launched several initiatives such as Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), eNAM (National Agricultural Market), National E-governance Plan (NeGP) and e-Krishi project to encourage the adoption of technology in agriculture and make it easier for farmers to sell their produce. The government also launched a mobile app, Kisan Suvidha to provide farmers with information on weather, market process and crop-related queries.

    2. Rising Demand for Food
One of the main drivers of the growth of the agritech sector in India is the increasing demand for food due to a growing population. India is the second most populous country in the world, and by 2050, it is expected to overtake China. As more people move into cities, the demand for food increases, and traditional farming methods are unable to keep up. Agritech solutions, such as precision farming and data analytics, can help farmers increase their yields and reduce waste, making it easier to meet the growing demand for food.

This sector is playing an important role in meeting the rising demand for food. start-ups are developing innovative solutions to increase crop yields, reduce post- harvest losses, and improve the quality of agricultural products. The use of technology in agriculture is helping farmers to produce more with fewer resources, which is essential for meeting the rising demand for food.

    3. Supportive Policy Environment
The Indian government has been supportive of the agritech sector and has launched several initiatives to promote its growth. The Startup India initiative, launched in 2016, provides startups with tax benefits, funding, and mentorship to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country. The government has also launched the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana to provide insurance coverage to farmers in case of crop failure due to natural calamities.

The government has also launched the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan to promote self-reliance and boost the growth of the Indian economy. The initiative includes several measures aimed at promoting the growth of the agritech sector, such as the promotion of farm mechanisation, the establishment of agro-processing clusters, and the development of cold chain infrastructure.

    4. Increased Investor Interest
The agritech sector has seen a surge in investor interest in recent years. According to a report by Nasscom, the Indian agritech sector received $244 million in funding in 2020, a 38% increase from the previous year. Start-ups in the agritech sector are attracting investments from both domestic and international investors, including venture capitalists, private equity firms, and corporate investors.

The increasing investor interest in the agritech sector is driven by the growth potential of the sector. The Indian agricultural sector is vast and offers significant opportunities for startups to develop innovative solutions that can address the challenges faced by farmers.

Despite the growth of the agritech sector in India, there are still challenges that need to be overcome. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of access to capital for start-ups. Many agritech start-ups in India struggle to raise funding, which can limit their ability to develop and scale their solutions.

Another challenge is the lack of infrastructure in rural areas. Many farmers in India do not have access to reliable electricity or Internet connectivity, which can limit their ability to use agritech solutions effectively.

Despite these challenges, the agritech sector in India is poised for continued growth in 2023 and beyond. With the right support, increasing adoption of technology, supportive government policies and investment, agritech start-ups in India can help transform the livelihood of millions of farmers and country's agricultural sector, making it more efficient, productive and sustainable.

(The author is food consultant, F2F Corporate Consultants Private Limited. She can be reached at pune@farmtoforkindia.com)
 
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