An initiative to boost digital agriculture has been launched in a strategic partnership between the startup incubator of the Indian state of Telangana, T-Hub and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the two organisations to foster a collaborative environment to help entrepreneurs at T-Hub leverage their skills to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in the drylands of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
The collaboration will include setting up an incubation hub for agriculture; partnerships and synergies across the innovation spectrum; sponsoring agricultural programmes, events and workshops; finding ways in which ICRISAT can become a partner in T-Hub’s Accelerator programme in agriculture sector, which provides a course to start-up entrepreneurs.
“Food and life sciences demands are of the highest need in the country. It’s also a time when science innovations in the area of big data and analytics are intersecting with each other to change the technology landscape. It is with this motive that we are keen to innovate and push the boundaries in the AgriTech space. The T-Hub and ICRISAT engagement model is a unique one and designed to challenge and bring change to the Agri landscape in India,” said Jay Krishnan, Chief Executive Officer of T-Hub.
Under the partnership an international Agricultural Innovation Programme will be launched and the initiative will begin by sourcing AgriTech startups from Israel. Both, ICRISAT and T-Hub will provide mentoring, access to agriculture centric research, business models and market access. To facilitate a lot of this, ICRISAT is setting up an innovations and creative space for entrepreneurs and other stakeholders. The plan is to create a dynamic agricultural innovation platform in Hyderabad that will help to substantially improve the lives of farmers not just in India but around the world.
“We are very excited about this partnership and the enormous potential it has. This is a unique collaboration that brings together ICRISAT’s expertise in agriculture across the value chain and T-Hub’s vibrant and extensive network of entrepreneurs that have varied skills and creative capabilities. We will span multiple programmes covering agriculture as the core domain and technology innovation which will create impact on a large scale. We also plan to run multiple collaborations including theme based hackathons and acceleration programmes,” said Dr. David Bergvinson, Director General of ICRISAT.
Indian farmers and agricultural value chain actors need access to comprehensive information; weather forecasts, ideal dates for planting and other farm operations, appropriate crop varieties, potential return on investment and more. But this information is often difficult to access, analyse, and communicate in a timely and accessible format to farmers. Digital entrepreneurs can play a crucial role in gathering, analysing and disseminating that information to farmers in a more accessible medium. Timely access to this information could increase food production and help farmers overcome the challenges of extreme climate variabilities.