Nagpur (Maharashtra) [India], December 25 (ANI): Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka Dr Ashwathnarayan C N has stressed on the need to make farmers ‘micro entrepreneurs’ and said that the next generation of farmers in rural parts will be digital-savvy due to technology penetration such as broadband and mobile usage.
Speaking here on ‘Transforming Agriculture through Technology, innovation, Startups’ at the inaugural session of the mega agro event of Central India ‘Agrovision’ on Friday, Ashwathnarayan said, “There is a need to make farmers ‘micro entrepreneurs’ and re-imagine the agriculture value chain from their perspective.”
“The next generation of farmers in rural parts will be digital-savvy due to technology penetration such as broadband and mobile usage. In this context, we need to think about ensuring improved yields, better productivity, and creating direct market linkages,” the minister added.
Talking about the usefulness of technology in agriculture, Ashwathnarayan said that the novel technology is able to provide real-time advisory on inputs required for respective crops, near-accurate weather forecasts.
“Today novel technology is able to provide real-time advisory on inputs required for respective crops, near-accurate weather forecast, post-harvest machines can sort 18 tonnes of fruit in less than 3 hours into different grades, enable soil testing and reporting in less than 30 minutes, AI & Machine Learning can be used to estimate actual crop harvested and assess damage due to natural calamities,” he said.
The Minister informed that the investment of more than Rs. 5,000 Cr into the agri-tech startups has flowed into the sector in the last 11 months.
“Agri-tech startups are booming in the country and more than Rs. 5,000 Cr investments have flowed into the sector in the last 11 months and more than 70 startups are engaged providing direct farmer linkages of about Rs 8000 crore facilitating direct purchase from farmers. This has helped in improving the income of farmers by 1.5 to 2 times.,” he said.
“‘Local efforts and global benefits’ should be our mantra. For example, focusing on post-harvest solutions at Districts/taluka levels can result in increasing farmers’ income by 20 per cent,” he added.
The Karnataka Minister further said that each startup can adopt 5-10 villages in Districts to create awareness of technology intervention to the farmers.
“Each startup can adopt 5-10 villages in Districts to create awareness of technology intervention to our Farmers. Between 2017 and 2020, the country has received about USD1 billion in agrotech funding. Between 2022-2025, this should triple to catalyse digitalisation speed and ensure farmers have higher income generation opportunities,” he said.
The Minister, however, pointed out that there is a need for ten times more start-ups as the sector is lacking behind despite higher investments.
“Despite higher investments, we are still scratching the surface. We need ten times more start-ups in Agriculture in India. The current 1000-odd start-up ecosystem in Agriculture can solve only a small percentage of challenges. It is estimated that technology, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit can potentially create a market of around $35 billion in e-sales of agricultural products,” he said.
“Though to 55 per cent of country’s population depends on agriculture our contribution to world agricultural trade is less than 2.15 per cent and just 15 per cent to the GDP. This needs to be reversed and ensure India is not just a hi-tech capital of the world, but also the agro-tech capital of the world,” Ashwathnarayan opined.
Union Agriculture Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister for Surface Transport Nitin Gadkari were among a few who were present. (ANI)