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Govt setting up cell for agricultural start-ups & small entrepreneurs
Thursday, 21 November, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
The government is in the process of setting up a dedicated agri-entrepreneurs’ cell for start-ups and small entrepreneurs.

This was stated by Ashok Dalwai, chief executive officer, National Rainfed Area Authority (NRRA), Ministry of Agriculture at the second essay of the conference and awards for innovations by agri start-ups, Nurturing Agri Innovations, recently.

He added that there were numerous areas where the start-ups could help farmers reduce cost and increase income.

Dalwai also stressed upon the need to create 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 database related to all aspects of agriculture, and how it can be digitally translated,” he added.

Highlighting the role of various agriculture research centres and institutions, Dalwai said that we should create 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 added.

Neelkamal Darbari, managing director, SFAC, Government of India, said that the role of agri start-ups comes at the pre-harvest stage by providing value addition to the farmer.

Highlighting the role of FPOs (farmer producer organisations), she added that they were still struggling to do business in traditional ways. The country has about 5,000 FPOs, and they can act as a vehicle for innovation.

“The interface of technology through the FPO mechanism is yet to see some kind of traction,” Darbari said.

Hemendra Mathur, chairman, FICCI taskforce on agri start-ups and venture partner, Bharat Innovation Fund, stressed upon the need for start-ups to provide innovative solutions to the farmers to increase their incomes.

Highlighting the opportunities in agri innovations, he added, “We need to build capacity so that innovations can reach farmers. We can unlock value to the tune of $10 billion through agri innovations and the value that gets unlocked goes to farmers.”

T R Kesavan, chairman, FICCI National Agriculture Committee, and group president, TAFE, said, “The past few years have witnessed some positive changes with agri start-ups, and particularly, secondary agri business models that are defining rural economics, entering the sector and introducing innovations at the 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,” he added.

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

The FICCI Compendium on Agri Start-Ups, representing 103 case studies, was also released at the event.
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