A Madurai based farmer Mahendran seems very enthusiastic during the final destination of Krishi Parivartan Yatra (Agricultural Transformation Journey) in New Delhi. He shares his experience through his journey from Hyderabad to New Delhi via Nagpur, Bhopal and Mathura. According to him, he shared his own experience and knowledge with farmers in those cities and gained from others as well. But, he gives special credit to Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Bhopal for gaining information on agri machinery. A Ramanathan, a farmer from Pudukkottai was companion of his journey, also shared similar views.
They were among the 50 farmers, part of the Yatra, organised by the World Bank funded National Agriculture Innovation Project (NAIP) of Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The farmers were assembled from across the nation at Hyderabad and travelled to the designated destinations.
The major objective of the Yatra was to share knowledge about the success stories of NAIP and its associated farmers, carried out in a number of research institutes and agricultural universities. These success stories successfully converted into transformation in agriculture in the country.
The farmers participated in the agri expos in all five locations, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad, National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (Nagpur), Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering (Bhopal), Central Institute for Research on Goats (Mathura) and Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi. These expos were also attended by the experts from the agri business industry and agri scientists.
The first exhibition was organised at the global headquarters of ICRISAT in Hyderabad. The expo witnessed the best innovations and agri business modules of farmers, developed in collaboration with NAIP. On the other hand, in a gathering of around 200 farmers, the 50 NAIP beneficiary farmers shared their success stories. Meanwhile the industry experts highlighted the potential in agribusiness.
On the inauguration of the Yatra, national director of NAIP, Dr. D Rama Rao, emphasising on innovation in agriculture, said, "Innovation in agriculture is widely considered as the key to achieve food security. To actualise this vast untapped potential of Indian agriculture, this Yatra is being organised to bring to the fore the unlimited opportunities that agriculture and agribusiness offer."
"Our mission is to make smallholder farmers in the drylands prosperous, not just self-sufficient. And that is why we are engaged in promoting an inclusive and technology-based entrepreneurship and agribusiness program," said Joanna Kane-Potaka, strategic marketing and communication director, ICRISAT on the occasion.
NAIP has embarked on this unique initiative to promote awareness about the potential in agri-business, nurture agri-innovators for future generations, and also to promote the various business incubation services offered by 22 NAIP’s Business Planning and Development (BPD) units. The BPDs primarily act as agriculture incubation centres and help start-ups or entrepreneurs foraying into agribusiness to flourish by providing comprehensive business solutions.
Over the last five years BPDs have been set up throughout India in agricultural universities and research institutes by NAIP with support and mentoring by ICRISAT. The success has led to ICRISAT and ICAR sharing their expertise. To inform Indian farmers about the Yatra, NAIP ran campaigns through Radio, TV and newspapers in 22 locations across India.
The Yatra came to an end on 19 May at IARI, New Delhi with organising a conclave aimed to bring together agri business experts, professionals, and other stakeholders of agriculture and allied businesses from across the country, on a common platform to share NAIP’s success and conceive path breaking ideas for strengthening the future of agribusiness.
In New Delhi, the corporate sector seemed keen to adopt innovations of NAIP. Coromandel International, a fertiliser manufacturing company, has taken license for nano sulphur which is currently put through testing. Amit Rastogi, vice president – technology at Coromandel, said on the concluding day of the Yatra in New Delhi, "We have a keen interest to transfer benefits of this technology to the farmers. If we convert a technology into a product, the farmers has to have a reason to buy them. There must be a standard cost and performance ratio in the product."
However, KK Narayanan, managing director of Bangalore based Metahelix Life Science Ltd, a Tata’s venture, seemed cautious on investing on each and every technology and said, "Every technology you develop may not be successful on the ground. First you have to be aware about a technology that it would be economically viable or not. If you are not aware, you may burn your figures."
Even though the Yatra came to its end in New Delhi, the journey in agri transformation has just begun in India. The country has a long way to go to match the developed countries in terms of agricultural growth. Suddenly, after the independence, it was a big challenge to feed the nation. Thanks to the Indian Government’s special focus on agriculture sector, India became efficient to feed its large population. However, we still are lacking in per hectare yield and innovations in agricultural sector in comparison to developed countries. Transformation through knowledge, innovation, mechanisation and other sectors will have to go a long way to become a world power in food business.