The government plans on setting up an Agri Entrepreunerial cell to encourage agri startups, said Ashok Dalwai, Chief Executive Officer at National Rainfed Area Authority, in an address at FICCI's Nurturing Agri Innovations 2019.
"We have now reserved 20 percent of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana to set up incubator facilities and to promote entrepreneurs. We need to ensure this is utilised properly," said Dalwai.
Dalwai asked for industry inputs on how this fund should be utilised. He listed out the five key areas where agri startups should look to innovate. Increasing productivity, decreasing cost of production, transfer of real prices at higher rate to the producers, risk management and sustainability describe every stage of this vast agriculture value platform. He said these are the areas where disruption is required.
He added there is an absence of robust policy at the government level to nurture agri-startups and there is a need to look at policy restrictions.
Dalwai emphasised on reworking central database. "We need to start looking at building a database related to all these aspects of agriculture. Data standardisation is required," he said.
The issue of profitability in agriculture is because of the way it is being practised, he said, adding, the rate of return on investment on small farms is much higher than that of large farms.
"Small farms are a challenge not because they are not profitable, but because of low volume of transactions. Technology helps in networking them together, converting small production centers into large ones. The way to solve the problem of small farms is to mobilise the farmers," he said.
Neelkamal Darbari, MD, SFAC, Government of India stressed on the role of FPOs (Farmers Producer Organization). She said FPOs are still struggling to do business in traditional ways.
"India has around 5,000 FPOs and they can act as a vehicle for innovation. The interface of technology through FPO mechanism is yet to see some kind of traction,” she added.