Mysuru (Karnataka) [India], May 21 (ANI): While laying emphasis on the use of modern technology in the agricultural sector, Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Friday said agri-tech startups are critical to India’s future economy.
Addressing the third edition of “TechBharat” on the theme “Transforming India’s FoodTech, AgriTech and Agronomic Landscape” at CSIR-CFTRI campus here, 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provided by Modi government to address the problems of Indian agriculture such as supply chain management, use of outdated equipment, improper infrastructure, and the inability of farmers to access a wider range of markets with ease.”
The Minister noted that young entrepreneurs are now quitting their jobs in IT sectors and MNCs to establish their own startups as there is realization that investing in agriculture is one of the very few safe and profitable businesses.
He said, “Agri-tech 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 the Indian agriculture sector and eventually raise farmers’ incomes. 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.”
Singh emphasized that agriculture is one of the important pillars of the Indian economy as 54 per cent of the Indian population depends directly on agriculture and it accounts for around 20 per cent of GDP.
“Although agriculture in India has majorly seen steady growth in the last few years, not much has been done in encouraging young, fresh and unique innovative ideas in the sector,” he said.
Singh strongly advocated the use of modern and new technology in the 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 an assortment of technology like hybrid seeds, precision farming, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, geo-tagging and satellite monitoring, mobile apps and farm management software can be applied at every stage in the agriculture process to increase productivity and farm incomes.
The Minister 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 the use of ‘Kisan Drones’ will be promoted for crop assessment, digitization 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 optimizing the overall cost for the farmer.
He said that many agri-tech startups in India are mainly in the 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 farmers’ problems.
He said that 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.
He noted that internet usage, increase in smartphone penetration, the emergence of startups and various government initiatives in rural areas are facilitating fast technology adoption in the farm sector.
“The technology solutions for most issues in agriculture are present but the challenge is for these solutions to reach every farmer on 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 Indian economy also grows rapidly,” the Minister added. (ANI)