Agri start-ups should become pivot of transformation & democratisation of technology: Dr Ashok Dalwai, CEO, NRAA

Agri start-ups should become pivot of transformation & democratisation of technology: Dr Ashok Dalwai, CEO, NRAA

At the time when India has made good progress in ease of doing business, more efforts are still required to make agriculture competitive, Dr Ashok Dalwai, CEO, National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Govt of India today said.

Addressing the inaugural session of the third edition of FICCI Summit and Awards for Agri Start-ups, Dr Dalwai said, agricultural start-ups should become the pivot of agricultural transformation. He also mentioned that it was imperative to democratise technology and create jobs in rural India through development of Agri start-up ecosystem. “We need to create a single platform of agricultural institutions and compile their technology to make it available to the agri start-ups. There are numerous incubation centres in the country that run entrepreneurship development programmes. This needs to be made available through a single window system,” he said. Also, all government departments and stakeholders need to come together and set up a one -stop- solution for data collection, he added.

Speaking on the importance of the sector, Dr Dalwai said, “Agriculture should not be seen as just a food producing sector but as a major contributor to building the nation’s economy. While every nation will compete to becoming a global hub for certain commodities, India need to reorient and redesign agriculture to generate more productive employment and gain rightful position in the global market.” He also highlighted the importance of collaborative partnership between start-ups, farmer producer organisations (FPOs) and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to drive holistic growth in the sector.

Further, Dr Dalwai said that it was important to promote capacity building and enhance skills. “Secondary agriculture should be brought forward as a main activity for agricultural start-ups to explore” he added.

Neelkamal Darbari, MD, Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC), Govt of India, mentioned that wider use and dissemination of customised technologies across the agriculture value chain from pre-harvest to post harvest was the need of the hour. Enhancing the use of technology to empower FPOs with information is equally important, she added.

TR Kesavan, Chairman, FICCI National Agriculture Committee & Group President, TAFE, said that FICCI was well connected with Agri start-ups. He said that compared to start-ups in other sectors, the main constraint that Agri start-ups face is that of not being able to scale. “While the agri start-ups bring in brilliant ideas and get into a mode of action on the ground, one of the areas that they get stuck in is ‘how to expand?’ and we need to address this issue,” he said.

Rajesh Raghvan, Managing Director and Country Head, Husqvarna India said that with multi-fold growth in less than a decade and with more technological minds getting into agriculture, it is no surprise that the global eyes are on the emerging agritech sector in India.

The FICCI-PwC Report: Agri-startups: Heralding Next Level of Agricultural Transformation was also released. The report identifies the status of Indian agriculture and the resilience of start-ups during COVID-19 and beyond. The knowledge report also strongly suggests strategies to build globally competitive and robust agri ecosystem.

Briefing about the knowledge report released during the event, Ashok Varma, Partner & Head, Social Sector Advisory Practice, PwC, and Knowledge partner to this initiative, said, the report looks at the agricultural start-up ecosystem in the country as well as the various emerging trends in Indian agriculture. “Agri start-ups are expected to play a pivotal role in transforming agriculture in next decade therefore supporting agritech start up ecosystem to scale up would be critical to success of this journey,” he said.

Hemendra Mathur, Chairman, FICCI Task Force on Agri Start-ups and Venture Partner, Bharat Innovation Fund said, FICCI has had numerous industry- start-up interactions in last few years. “The next decade will be the period of agri start-ups with a huge transformation in the food economy. He further said that the agri start-up ecosystem would not only create value, but also improve farmer access and take innovative solutions to rural areas.

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