As part of the ongoing ‘Food, Agriculture and Livelihood’ fortnight, at India Pavilion at Expo2020 Dubai, Ministry of Agriculture and Family Welfare, Government of India, hosted a seminar on ‘Emerging Technologies in Farm Machinery, Digitization and Opportunities for Entrepreneurships’. To showcase the innovative technologies supporting and promoting the overall productivity and agribusiness of India’s farm sector through farm mechanization, digitization and entrepreneurship development.
The seminar deliberated on the role of the emerging novel technologies helping the agriculture sector shift gears from being just production-oriented to income-oriented agriculture while ensuring cost optimization, better market access, appropriate quality, competitive pricing, and transparency in the entire value chain.
In his inaugural remarks, PK Swain, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, said, “Despite 85% farm holdings under two hectares, the technology and farm mechanization coupled with good production practices and better input has helped support and promote Indian agriculture productivity and quality. We have reached the estimated production of a record more than 308 million tonnes of food grains and 330 million tonnes of fruits and vegetables. This is due to the continuous efforts of our farmers who have embraced the technology and good agri practices, which are making India from being a food basket to becoming a food giver to the world.”
“Our aim is to ensure that our farmers are not just producers but are becoming entrepreneurs. The start-ups are also coming up with innovative technologies by understanding the need of farmers and consumers, and are developing solutions to curb food wastage, and ensuring that the entire process is time-efficient and productive, generating value in the economy,” said Swain.
He added that the sector is committed to achieving the United Nations SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), ending hunger, removing poverty, promoting sustainability, climate action, and gender equality, and the emerging technologies and processes are also contributing to reducing the carbon emission, which is in line with India’s commitment at COP26.
Special guest at the event, Consul General of India in Dubai and Deputy Commissioner-General for India at EXPO2020 Dubai, Dr Aman Puri emphasized the role of start-ups in the agriculture sector and said, “We have India Innovation Hub, a mobile platform at India Pavilion, where till date more than 400 start-ups have showcased their outstanding innovative capabilities, which include several innovations in the Agri sector. 2021 was a landmark year for India’s start-up story with the Prime Minister declaring January 16th as National Startup Day and calling start-ups the ‘backbone’ of India.”
Addressing the session, VN Kale, Additional Commissioner (M&T), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, said, “India has high potential to export various types of agricultural machinery including tractors, combine harvesters, and other agricultural machinery. It can also provide the skill, and bilateral cooperation as far as the training and testing is concerned, to various countries as well.” He added, “India can play a major role in promoting the farm mechanization to the whole world. One of the measures introduced by the government is the PLI (Production Linked Incentive) scheme for drone technology and it’s a single-window approach for clearing all the projects under one window.”
Talking about the various government schemes to promote the digital agriculture ecosystem, Chhavi Jha, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, during the session said, “The start-up scheme that we run in the Department of Agriculture, the ‘Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana – Remunerative Approaches for Agriculture and Allied Sectors Rejuvenation’ (RKVY-RAFTAAR), is basically about the two kinds of funding we give – pre-seed grant up to INR 5,00,000 and another grant up to Rs 25,00,000. We have five centers of excellence and 24 incubators all over the country, and most of these are ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) institutes. Apart from that we also have some IITs and IIMs to whom we have appointed the incubators.”
“Scope of digital agriculture is immense, and we already have over 1200 agritech start-ups who are using a lot of digital technology. These technologies in the form of data and advisory, on soil and crops, usage of machine learning, artificial intelligence and drones will surely benefit the farmers,” Jha added.
At the session, multiple start-ups also exhibited their innovative technologies and offerings, focusing on improving the sector’s value chain and production capacity. This was well appreciated by importers and investors from the Gulf region who participated in the seminar.
The session also witnessed participation from eminent speakers including TR Kesavan, chairman FICCI National Agriculture Committee and group president, Tafe, Antony Cherukara, chief executive officer, VST Tilers Tractors, Harsh Aggarwal, M/S NeerX Technovation, Ben Varghese Mathew, Ninjacart, Dr Shankar Goenka, managing director, WOW GO Green, Brighu Ravi, head of International Business, Tracex, Pranav Tiwari, chief technical officer, Nurture Farm, Kirti Meghnani, head Retail Procurement, Choithrams, Abbas Khan, general manager, Grand Hypermarkets among others.