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Govt Launches New Schemes in Public-Private Partnership Mode To Facilitate Agricultural Innovations

Government introduces new schemes in partnership with public and private modes with an aim to enhance products.

Vivek Singh
Govt Launches New Schemes In Public-Private Partnership Mode (Photo Courtesy: @PMOIndia/Twitter)
Govt Launches New Schemes In Public-Private Partnership Mode (Photo Courtesy: @PMOIndia/Twitter)

The government has set up a Screening Committee to facilitate agricultural innovations for the benefit of farmers. The committee will coordinate the testing of selected technologies from private companies and startups, aiming to improve products through real-world observations and data within a specified timeframe. Additionally, the government has established an open-source and interoperable Digital Public Infrastructure for Agriculture. This infrastructure includes three main databases for farmers, village mapping, and crop tracking. These databases are designed to be utilized by state governments and the private sector to create solutions tailored to farmers' needs.

Furthermore, the Expenditure Finance Committee has approved a Central Sector Scheme. This scheme aims to offer combined capital support for startups engaged in agricultural and rural enterprises related to the Farm Produce Value Chain. Recognizing the distinct benefits of drone technologies in agriculture, the Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare publicly released the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in December 2021. These SOPs outline guidelines for the safe and effective utilization of drones in applying pesticides and nutrients.

To enhance the accessibility of this technology for farmers and stakeholders in the sector, financial aid of 100% is offered for procuring agricultural drones and their accessories. This financial support covers either the actual expenses or up to Rs 10 lakhs, whichever is lower. This assistance is extended under the Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) to institutions such as the Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institutes of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs). For Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), financial aid at a rate of 75% is available for demonstrating drone usage on farmers' fields.

In the pursuit of offering agricultural services through drone technology, financial aid at 40% of the base drone cost and its accessories, or up to Rs 4 lakhs, is extended to both existing and new Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs) and general category farmers. Additionally, SC/ST/women/small and marginal farmers, as well as agriculture graduates, can receive 50% financial assistance of the basic drone cost and its attachments, or up to Rs 5 lakhs.

A segment known as "Innovation and Agri-Entrepreneurship Development" was introduced as part of the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY-RAFTAAR) in the fiscal year 2018-19. The primary aim was to foster innovation and agri-entrepreneurship by offering financial assistance and nurturing the ecosystem for startup incubation. This initiative encourages startups to leverage innovative technologies in order to address challenges encountered in agriculture and related sectors. Across a range of agricultural and allied domains, a total of 1176 startups have been chosen to receive financial backing through Knowledge Partners and Agri-Business Incubators designated by the Department for program implementation.

The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) has been supporting startups focused on agriculture through the National Agriculture Innovation Fund (NAIF) project initiated during 2016-2017. This project consists of two main components: the Innovation Fund and the Incubation Fund, along with the National Coordinating Unit (NCU).

  • For the first component, there are 10 Zonal Technology Management Units and 89 Institute Technology Management Units (ITMUs) established across 99 ICAR institutes. These units serve as a centralized mechanism to manage innovations, showcase intellectual assets, and handle matters related to intellectual property management and the transfer/commercialization of technologies within these institutes.

  • The second component involves the establishment of Agri-business Incubator Centres (ABICs) aimed at expediting the delivery of new technologies to stakeholders. These ABICs act as pivotal points for linking Agriculture Research & Development (R&D) Institutions, facilitating the incubation and commercialization of validated technologies. Presently, there are 50 operational Agri-Business Incubation Centers established within the ICAR network under the NAIF scheme.

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