JAMMU: Union Minister of State (IC) Ministry of Science and Technology; Minister of State (IC) Ministry of Earth Science; MoS of Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions Dr Jitendra Singh said, Agri-tech Start-ups are critical to India’s future economy.
Addressing a Conclave-cum-Exhibition on Agri-Tech and Food-Tech here, Dr Jitendra Singh said, a new wave of Agri-tech Startups has come up in India in the last few years due to enabling policy environment provided by Modi government to address the problems of Indian agriculture such as supply chain management, use of outdated equipment, improper infrastructure, and inability of farmers to access a wider range of markets with ease. The Minister noted with satisfaction that young entrepreneurs are now quitting their jobs in IT sectors and MNCs to establish their own startups and these young entrepreneurs are now beginning to realise the fact that investing in agriculture is one of the very few safe and profitable businesses.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, Agritech Startups are providing innovative ideas and affordable solutions to a number of challenges faced all across the agricultural value chain and it has the potential to change the face of Indian agriculture sector and eventually raise farmers’ incomes. He said, these startups and budding entrepreneurs have become the missing link between the farmers, input dealers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers connecting each of them to each other and providing strong marketing linkages and quality produce on time.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, the third edition of “TechBharat” on the theme “Transforming India’s FoodTech, AgriTech & Agronomic Landscape” is a timely one as Agriculture is one of the important pillars of the Indian economy as 54 percent of Indian population depends directly on agriculture and it accounts for around 19(21) percent of GDP. He said, although, agriculture in India has majorly seen a steady growth in the last few years, not much has been done in encouraging young, fresh and unique innovative ideas in the sector.
Dr Jitendra Singh strongly advocated the use of modern and new technology in Agricultural sector and pointed out that countries like Israel, China and the US have transformed several agriculture practices in their country with the use of technology. He said, these countries have demonstrated that assortment of technology like hybrid seeds, precision farming, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, geo-tagging & satellite monitoring, mobile apps and farm management software can be applied at every stage in agriculture process to increase productivity and farm incomes.
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched 100 Made in India agricultural drones across the country in February this year, which carried out farm operations in unique simultaneous flights. He also referred to the Budget Speech of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, wherein she said that use of ‘Kisan Drones’ will be promoted for crop assessment, digitisation of land records, spraying of insecticides, and nutrients. The Minister added that Drones can also be used for assessing the health of any vegetation or crop, field areas inflicted by weeds, infections and pests and based on this assessment, the exact amounts of chemicals needed to fight these infestations can be applied thereby optimising the overall cost for the farmer.
Dr Jitendra Singh underlined that Indian agriculture space holds tremendous potential for technology adoption considering the sheer size of population involved in it. He said, AgriTech is nothing, but application of modern technologies to the agricultural sector with a view to enhance produce, efficiency and revenue. The concept extends to any applications, practices, products and services that enhance any aspect of the agricultural process, be it an input function or the output received, he added.
The Minister said that many agri-tech startups in India are mainly in marketplace segment where e-commerce companies provide fresh and organic fruits and vegetables procured directly from farmers, but recently many startups have come up providing innovative and sustainable solutions for farmer’s problems. He said, Startups are now providing solutions such as biogas plants, solar powered cold storage, fencing and water pumping, weather prediction, spraying machines, seed drills and vertical farming, which is bound to increase farmers income.
In his concluding remarks, Dr Jitendra Singh said, he is quite optimist that upsurge in the internet usage, increase in smartphone penetration, emergence of startups and various government initiatives in rural areas are facilitating fast technology adoption in the farm sector. He said, the technology solutions for most issues in agriculture are present but the challenge is for these solutions to reach every farmer in a larger scale and not just only one farmer. It is time now that we adopt technology in this very crucial sector of our economy and on a mass scale, so that the agriculture and the farming community benefit and in turn the India economy also grows rapidly, the Minister added.
Dr. G.R. Chintala, Chairman, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Dr. Sridevi Annapurna Singh; Director, CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysuru, Shri Mahesh Shenoy, President, Laghu Udyog Bharati- Mysuru Vibhag, Shri Rajappa, Secretary, Laghu Udyog Bharati- Mysuru Vibhag and many senior officials, delegates and invitees joined the programme at CSIR-CFTRI Campus, Mysuru.