Balraj, a farmer from Punjab deploys a sensor to detect moisture in the atmosphere to optimise the water and energy consumption in his irrigation practices. His village doesn’t have electricity and farmers in the village use diesel-run water pumps. Deploying this sensor saves both diesel, and water which he quantifies as 15-20 hours of running the pump. The sensor was able to detect moisture in the lower layers of the soil. He observed an improvement in crop yield and soil health. This sensor is a product of an agritech startup, KisanMitr. Blaraj was showcasing his case study at the 28th edition of the series of agricultural presentations, organised by Office of Principal Scientific Advisor to Government of India.
One of the biggest challenges,for agritech start-ups, is reaching out to the farmers, farmer producer organisations (FPOs), Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and their end-users. KisanMitr was conceptualised and has been successful in linking the supply with the demand side. The start-ups can support the farmers through the KVKs and the farmers can find solutions to some of their challenges.
The series of agricultural presentations by technology developers across the Indian Research Institutes and their incubated start-ups have helped showcase around 150 agricultural technologies across different themes, farm management, post-harvest management and allied agriculture.These have been garnered under the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA), Government of India. The presentations are made primarily for the demand members — industry and incubators — to evaluate the technologies and to stitch the supply side and demand side of agriculture through technology.
Speaking at the 28th edition recently, Dr. AK Singh, Deputy Director-General, (Agricultural Extension) , Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) pointed out that KisanMitr was helping meet the PM’s vision of developing technology solutions for farmers’ problems. He congratulated the Office of PSA, Indian Centre for Social Transformation (ICST), NSRCEL (IIM-B’s start up incubation centre) for facilitating the process of making technology and innovations that are developed in research laboratories reach farmers across the country. Applauding the organisation of vernacular sessions of these webinars, he also hoped that the upcoming webinars would bring together more farmers to talk about their problems, and what technology solutions they need. He opined that “one farmer will help train many more farmers. So, if we train one with technology, they would help transfer knowledge too.”
Dr. Singh called out to the KVKs to be flag bearers and help reach these solutions to reach the farmer by organising a viewing session in KVK offices for farmers for demonstration of agritech solutions. Seventy five KVKs have, till now, partnered for this outreach.
Among the voluntary organisations that are facilitating the organisation of these vernacular language sessions for farmers are VIT School of Agricultural Innovations and Advanced Learning, VAIAL (Tamil), and Grameena Incubation Center (Telugu). The teams are in talks with others for sessions in Gujarati, Marathi, and Rajasthani. The upcoming sessions in Tamil and Telugu are planned to be held on 10th July and 17th July respectively. Coming months, there is a plan to telecast these sessions in other regional languages as more KVK partners join the initiative.
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