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What is Agricultural Accelerator Fund and How Will it Help Agritech Start-ups?

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced an agriculture accelerator fund for agritech startups in the budget 2023-24. The fund focuses on supporting young entrepreneurs from rural areas by providing them with modern tools and technologies.

Aarushi Chadha

In an effort to support agritech startups and young entrepreneurs from rural areas, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced creation of an Agriculture Accelerator Fund in her budget speech on February 1. The fund aims to implement cost-effective solutions by introducing contemporary technologies and boosting output. It focuses on bringing innovative solutions to challenges faced by farmers.

How will Agriculture Accelerator Fund help agri-tech industry

In her speech, Nirmala Sitharaman said, “This (Agriculture Accelerator Fund) will enable inclusive, farmer-centric solutions through relevant information services for crop planning and health, improved access to farm inputs, credit, and insurance, help for crop estimation, market intelligence, and support for the growth of agri-tech industry and startups.”

According to the Economic Survey 2022-23, there are over 1,000 agritech startups that are currently helping farmer improve their farming practices. The survey said that the smart farming practices introduced by the startups have helped with crop diversification which reduces the farmers’ dependency on monsoon water.

The Survey adds, “This (climate-smart farming) is slowly gaining acceptance with farmers using clean energy sources like solar for irrigation. The farmers have been incentivized to transfer electricity generated through solar to the local grid. Crop yield prediction models using artificial intelligence and drones for monitoring soil and crop health have been initiated.”

Agricultural practices around the world are seeing a renaissance as they must tackle the issue of the growing population, lack of natural resources, and poor soil quality. Agritech startups aim to modernize and improve the traditional agricultural sector in India. Most farmers in India have to deal with issues such as inadequate infrastructure, low productivity, and limited access to technology and financing.

Existing agritech startups are using innovative technologies such as smart irrigation systems, weather-based advisory services, and precision farming to optimize crop yield and minimize wastage. These startups are also helping farmers make informed decisions regarding pest management, fertilizer application, and seed selection.

Startups also aim to provide farmers with reliable access to financial services and products like microfinance and crop insurance. Microfinancing and crop insurance will allow farmers to mitigate the risk of crop failure due to multiple factors and even invest in their operations. Agritech startups will also work alongside farmers to streamline the distribution of their products and reduce the number of intermediaries.

Experts View

Experts claim that the agriculture accelerator fund is expected to be extremely beneficial for agritech startups as it will provide them with a much-needed boost in transforming agricultural practices and increasing productivity and profitability. Rajesh Ranjan, CEO of Krishify, a social media and e-commerce platform for farmers says, “This (Agriculture Accelerator Fund) will certainly encourage a greater number of startups to emerge and scale up their unique solutions, fast-tracking innovation in the sector.”

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