(This post is in continuation of my last post which can be read here)
Today, agri-tech dreams need to be driven, scalable and have long-term possibilities to address global concerns. The underlying theme in all is innovation.Without innovative thinking and solutions, these dreams cease to become reality. I believe there is a great need to provide the agricultural sector with support systems that can guarantee the success of the farmer.
I cite two examples here- of entrepreneurs who kept innovation at their core, and were able to chase their agri-tech dreams. The first is a venture which identified the need for warehousing facilities for crops in various parts of Bihar. Farmers were losing valuable perishable crops due to lack of post-harvest storing facilities. The startup that we identified and funded, filled this niche void by picking up produce from the farmer, storing it in warehouses and releasing it piecemeal, so that there would not be a glut with excess produce hitting the market all at once. The other is a startup called that loaned tractors and farm equipment to small land-holding farmers who cannot afford to buy machinery themselves. Group farming will help farmers to use innovative technology, produce valuable products and market them with profitable returns.Sahyadri farms, a farmer-producer company founded by a group of marginal farmers collectively began their journey in the year 2000 and made agriculture lucrative through producing and exporting grapes and other fruits and vegetables across the world.
To encourage more such innovation, it is encouraging to see exclusive hackathons and similar events by Government and industry bodies. Many of these meetings and researches also confirm that there are many opportunities in areas such as research to increase crop production, improve nutritional value, reduce cost of inputs, strengthen supply chains, make farm mechanisation accessible etc. In India mechanization in Agriculture has started growing. The agriculture equipment market in India is presently valued at 6.5 billion USD and has enormous potential for further growth. Joint venture activities by Govt. of India and the private sector, like the International Exhibition and Conference on Agri-Machinery and equipment which is going to be held in New Delhi-PUSA on 7th-9th December, 2017 will provide an opportunity for participants to interact with the delegates around the world and will get exposed to live demonstrations on latest trends in agri-automation. Indian Ministry of Agriculture has also having proposed action plan on Agriculture Mechanization from year 2017 to 2022.
These opportunities are being tapped by impact investors and a report (2016) suggests that over $3.23 billion was invested in the agriculture sector worldwide. Of this, 53 Indian agritech startups raised $313 million mostly in precision agriculture technologies, which include data-capturing devices and farm management software and novel farming systems. Still at a nascent stage, agri tech dreams require courage, but once you are on the road to live them, you will go on to become a pioneer.
-Vaishali Khanale, Scientist, Mahyco