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Winning Prize Is Rs 2.6 Crore For DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge

The challenge under the DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge aims to secure water and unlock prosperity for 1 million smallholder farmers.

Vivek Singh
DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge Finalists Announced  (Photo Credit: Krishi Jagran)
DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge Finalists Announced (Photo Credit: Krishi Jagran)

The DCM Shriram Foundation, in partnership with The/Nudge Institute and the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, has announced the 16 semi-finalists for the DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge. This competition aims to address India's agricultural water crisis through innovative solutions. Out of 134 applicants, these 16 organizations have been chosen to compete for a total prize fund of INR 2.6 crores, which includes INR 60 lakh for the three finalists who meet specific targets.

The DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge is tackling the pressing issue of inadequate agricultural water management in India. With agriculture consuming a substantial 78% of the country's freshwater supply, of which 62% is groundwater, the rapid depletion of groundwater levels at 2-3 meters per year is alarming. If this trend continues, India could face a severe water shortage by 2030. To combat this problem, the challenge is encouraging AgTech and Social Impact Entrepreneurs to develop innovative solutions specifically for water-intensive crops like rice, wheat, sugarcane, and cotton. These crops are essential for the livelihoods of small-scale farmers who are struggling with increasing water scarcity and climate-related challenges.

Sixteen AgWater Tech Innovators are addressing agricultural water challenges in India with a diverse range of solutions. These innovators are working on data-driven and smart irrigation systems, IoT-powered embedded hardware, a user-friendly Geo-AI platform for precise water management, portable moisture measurement probes, and advanced imaging technology. Some are also pioneering an "Irrigation-as-a-Service" model for affordable and equitable irrigation systems. These innovative approaches have the potential to significantly improve water utilization and increase the profitability of smallholder farmers, ultimately transforming water use in Indian agriculture and fostering sustainable change.

Aman Pannu, President of DCM Shriram Foundation, praised an initiative focused on water conservation in agriculture. He emphasized the need for a deep understanding of agriculture's complexities in tackling water challenges. Pannu commended innovative solutions from individuals and organizations, expressing confidence in their ability to address water issues and improve smallholder farmers' livelihoods. He highlighted the initiative's goal of empowering the agricultural community while conserving this vital resource.

Kanishka Chatterjee, Director of The/Nudge Prize, highlights the significance of addressing specific challenges in the AgriWater sector. The initiative has attracted top professionals and organizations in AgTech by focusing on complex issues. Over the next 10 months, participants aim to innovate and scale solutions for efficient water use and improving smallholder farmers' livelihoods. Chatterjee expresses gratitude to experts, partners, mentors, and advisors in the AgWater ecosystem and anticipates collaboration with the top 16 innovators to empower grassroots agriculture.

In a 10-month initiative, 16 organizations have been selected as semi-finalists to implement projects and expand their solutions across various locations to address water use efficiency in agriculture. The selection process involved three stages, evaluating factors like relevance, impact, readiness, and affordability. The panel, consisting of 18 members from key partners and sector experts, carefully curated this group from an initial pool of 134 applicants.

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