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Innovation by Agri Start-Ups essential to overcome global challenges

Minister of Commerce and Industry, Suresh Prabhu  said that innovations and new ideas are essential to overcome the challenges arising in the agriculture sector globally.

Chander Mohan

Minister of Commerce and Industry, Suresh Prabhu  said that innovations and new ideas are essential to overcome the challenges arising in the agriculture sector globally.

Speaking at the ‘International Conference & Awards for Innovations by Agri Startups’ organized by FICCI, Mr Prabhu said that to promote new innovations and ideas, start-up companies in agriculture sector should be encouraged. “We have to produce more but there is a threat to existing products and this is going to be an extremely important issue. Agri innovation is the most important innovation the world would need in the field of agriculture at various levels and in different forms”, he emphasized.

He said start-ups could use technology and bring innovations in areas such as making land and soil more fertile; producing agriculture from wastewater; minimal use of fertilizers and pesticides and better productivity.

Mr. Prabhu also released the FICCI-PwC Knowledge Report on ‘Agri-Start-ups: Innovations for boosting the Future of Agriculture in India’ and also gave away the  ‘Business Excellence Awards for Innovations by Agri Start-ups’.

Ambassador of France to India, Alexandre Ziegler  highlighted a strong relationship between India and France in the agriculture sector. He said that France has already started using hi-end technologies like drones, artificial intelligence, big data etc. to ensure increase in productivity and invited Indian companies to invest in France. 

Mr T R Kesavan, Chairman, FICCI National Agriculture Committee & President and COO, TAFE Ltd. said that areas such as farm to the farm head; farm at storages and storage to markets were crucial areas where agri start-ups can use innovations. It was imperative for start-ups to adopt sustainable business models to help the farm sector.

Mr. Pravesh Sharma, Adviser- FICCI Agriculture Division and CEO Kamatan Farm Tech Pvt. Ltd. stressed the need for creating an ecosystem for the sustainability of start-ups and emphasized the need for using disruptive technologies in the agriculture sector.

Following are the highlights of the report: 

  • India houses a total of 366 agri based start-ups, of which more 50% came into existence in 2015 and 2016

  •  By 2020, the number of startups in India projected to increase to over 11,500 with job creation reaching 2.5-3 lakh by 2020

  • Geographically, Karnataka and Maharashtra together account for almost 50 percent of total agri startups opened in last 5 years 

  • New models such as the FAAS, can lead to more sustainable profitability 

  • Need for government to help set-up Agritech focused incubators and grants

  • To make agri-startups successful, it is crucial to enable seamless hybridization of relevant technology by building a ‘new age distribution model’

The report notes that agri-startups need to customize suitably for wading into the market that has scant technology adoption rate (due to limited budgets and inconvenience with its usage) and re-orient their methods of selling, which essentially will be different from urban India and start-ups operating there.

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