Agriculture plays a vital role in India’s economy. India has the 10th largest arable land resources in the world and with 20 agri-climatic regions, all 15 major climates in the world exist in India.
The country also possesses 46 of the 60 soil types in the world. Over 58 percent of the rural households depend on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood.
Growth in Gross Value Added (GVA) by agriculture and allied sectors stood at 4 percent in 2019-20 and growing population, rising urban and rural incomes have added to the growth in demand for agriculture products. The Indian food and grocery market is the world’s sixth largest, with retail contributing 70 percent of the sales.
The Indian food processing industry is one of the largest industries in India and is ranked fifth in terms of production, consumption, export, and expected growth.
Additionally, there has been a FDI inflow of $2.16 bn in the agriculture services and USD 574 Mn in the agriculture machinery from April 2000 to March 2020.6 India is also the largest producer of spices, pulses, milk, tea, cashew, and jute; and the second-largest producer of wheat, rice, fruits and vegetables, sugarcane, cotton and oilseed. India is currently the world’s fourth largest producer of agrochemicals.
While the government is trying to accelerate growth in the agriculture sector, budding entrepreneurs of the country are relentlessly contributing to the sector by innovating and developing breakthrough technology. Modern techniques and methods will surely elevate agriculture to the next level and ease the burden on farmers.
This, therefore, creates a huge scope for Agriculture Startups in the country. Transformation of Agriculture to Agri-business is one of the important strategies where enterprising farmers practice profitable agriculture.
Opportunity for Agro Entrepreneurship:
The agriculture sector efficiency in the supply chain that controls farming resources such as finance, seeds, chemicals, etc. and improper access to the distribution networks. Additionally, post-harvest loss in India amounts to INR 95,706 crore ($13bn).
Demand-driven cold chains, warehouse monitoring solutions, and market linkage can resolve the existing bottlenecks resulting in streamlining of processes along with a significant increase in farmers’ income.
Startup India Recognition:
Startup India, housed under Invest India, is a flagship initiative of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Government of India, intends to build a strong ecosystem that is conducive for the growth of startup businesses, drive sustainable economic growth, and generate large scale employment opportunities. The Government through this initiative aims to empower startups to grow through innovation and design.
Agriculture Grand Challenge:
Startup India engages with various Government bodies to conduct grand challenges to promote entrepreneurship and enhance collaboration among the ecosystem enablers and builders.
The grand challenges channelise the Government to work with startups and build partnerships on the front of executing National endeavours.
National Startup Awards 2020:
Agriculture Startup India launched National Startup Awards 2020 in December 2019 with an aim to recognise and reward outstanding startups and ecosystem enablers that are building innovative products or solutions and scalable enterprises, with high potential of employment generation, wealth creation and demonstrating measurable social impact and 12 sectors in total were identified in which startups are thriving and were further divided into 35 categories and 3 special categories.
Parameters on which applicants were evaluated included innovation, scalability, inclusiveness and diversity, economic impact, social impact, and environmental impact.
Out of the 12 identified sectors, Agriculture was one of the priority sectors in which over 150 applications were received across the four categories-Farmer Engagement and Education, Post-Harvest, Productivity, and Allied Areas (Fisheries, Poultry, Animal Husbandry, etc.)
Central Schemes: RKVY RAFTAAR
The Government of India is rejuvenating the technology and business development into the agricultural ecosystem and is catering specifically to the need and modalities for agribusiness promotion and entrepreneurship.
Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY) scheme was initiated in 2007 as an umbrella scheme for ensuring the holistic development of agriculture and allied sectors by allowing states to choose their agriculture and allied sector development activities as per the district or state agriculture plan.
The Scheme provides States with the flexibility and autonomy for selection, planning approval, and execution of projects as per the need, priorities, and agro-climate requirements.
Various state governments have also been consistently making efforts to evolve the existing agricultural industry and ecosystem through a multitude of schemes.
Maharashtra Government launched Maha Agri-Tech Scheme 2019 for digitally tracking agriculture management which will enable efficient tracking of all the information related to farming ranging from seed sowing to cropping harvesting.
The scheme will check the sowing area, atmosphere, various diseases on crops, and will provide critical information to farmers.
The K-Tech Centre of Excellences collaborative effort between Karnataka Innovation and Technology Society (KITS), Department of IT-BT and Science and Tech, Department of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, and C-CAMP supported by DBT, Government of India, promotes innovation by attracting various technologies for finding answers to the prevailing and looming problems in Agriculture.
The young and agile startup ecosystem has been adapting effectively during these unprecedented times. The agriculture startups are not only flourishing in the fast-paced and dynamic economy of today but are also developing innovative solutions and technologies and generating employment.
The innovative solutions and technologies created by the startups are creating manifold impact in the society. The innovations have received a surging demand from not only the private sector but also Government bodies.
The agriculture startups should continue to work effectively towards the mission of self reliance and self-sustainability like they have been in the past.
The vision of Atma Nirbhar Bharat is rooted deeply in the Startup Ecosystem and shall continue to prevail in the coming years.