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Agriculture ministry to set up Rs 500 Cr accelerator program to promote agri startups

DARE, DPIIT, agri incubators, agriculture universities, research institutes, investors, and other stakeholders will be included in the programme
Agriculture ministry to set up Rs 500 Cr accelerator program to promote agri startups
Agriculture ministry to set up Rs 500 Cr accelerator program to promote agri startups

In order to advance the successful initiatives of agri startups, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India will soon launch an accelerator programme with Rs 500 crore. Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), agri incubators, agriculture universities, research institutes, investors, and other stakeholders will be included in the programme, said Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Kailash Choudhary.

Speaking at the 5th FICCI Agri Start-up Summit & Awards 2022 in New Delhi on Tuesday, Choudhary announced the formation of a separate division in the Ministry of Agriculture for agricultural startups, to be headed by a Joint Secretary. He continued, “A cell will also be established to function as a single window agency to support all the linkages needed for agri startups.

Dr. Sudhanshu, Secretary, APEDA, Ministry of Commerce and Industries, GOI, stressed that agri startups are viable partners in this endeavour and that growing agricultural exports is a national imperative. To encourage participation in agri exports and develop the startup ecosystem, efforts are being undertaken to support and promote agri startups.

Dr Neelam Patel, Senior Advisor (Agriculture & Allied Sectors), NITI Aayog said that agri startups are taking a pragmatic approach towards innovation that is solving farmer problems at the ground level. She further added that now it’s time to push the throttle towards export orientation and build synergies with FPOs.

Hemendra Mathur, Chairman, FICCI Task Force on Agri Start-ups, highlighted that startups can build innovative solutions around traceability, quality assaying and trade facilitation to boost India’s food and agri exports. On the adverse impacts of climate change as well as financing challenges in the agriculture sector, he said, “Agritech, climate-tech and fintech have to merge with each other to handle these challenges.”

Vedika Kapoor, Head GA, South Asia, Corteva, speaking at FICCI’s Agri Start-up event said, sustainable innovation, soil health management and providing climate-resilient technologies to farmers are vital. Sustainability is no more an option but a necessity, it has to be a collective responsibility of all.

US Soy embraces sustainable agricultural practices to meet today’s global need for soy products without compromising the ability for future needs to be met, said, Jaison John, Team Lead -India at US Soybean Export Council (USSEC).

The agriculture sector contributes 25 per cent to overall GHG emissions. Going ahead, agri startups need to focus on providing affordable and innovative solutions while reducing food wastages, improving agri supply chain efficiency and minimising carbon footprints said, Ashok Varma, Partner, PwC.

TR Kesavan, Chair, FICCI Agriculture Committee and Group President, TAFE at FICCI Agri Start-up Summit & Awards said that cutting-edge technology is changing the agriculture sector in India. The startup ecosystem is creating a legacy which is expected to continue in generation alpha.

Pankaj K Dwivedi, Head of BD & Agronomy, nurture.farm highlighted that the burden of sustaining food systems needs to be distributed instead of cantered on farmers. All the major stakeholders need to look for simple and implementable solutions.

FICCI-PwC Knowledge report ‘AgTech: A smarter route to sustainable agriculture’ was released during the event.

Key highlights of the Knowledge Report

The FICCI PwC Knowledge research emphasises that while the land area used to raise crops has mostly remained constant, food demand is increasing annually. By 2050, there will be a challenge in providing enough food for the estimated 9.73 billion people on the planet while maintaining the ecosystem. Innovative and clever technology solutions that boost agricultural output while maintaining ecological balance are the answer to this problem.

Additionally, crop yields are severely threatened by climate change, making it difficult to maintain food security in the future. It is imperative to adopt and promote agricultural practices that assure food security while preserving the environment at the same time since agriculture accounts for 25 per cent of GHG emissions.

The report recommends a four-pronged ‘UDAI’ approach for achieving sustainable agriculture through agritech startups

U: Unique solutions for regenerative practices and natural solutions are imperative.
D: Developing a transparency and traceability system is essential for future agriculture.
A: Adequate training and education for service providers and farmers are vital
I: Innovation through R&D and fostering a networking culture need to be promoted.

Read more: IFC invests in Crystal Crop Protection to fund growth in affordable, green crop solutions

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