Thursday February 21, 2019
Home Uncategorized How Startup I...

How Startup India can bring positive changes in agriculture sector

0
//

By P.D. Rai

In India, many startup companies are actually happening in the organic agriculture space, but little is known of or heard about them.

They have not found space in Vigyan Bhavan during the inauguration of #StartupIndia by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on January 16. Overwhelmingly the glitz of technology-led startups were there for everyone to see. They are the now famous ones in online marketing like Flipkart or those in transportation aggregation like Ola.

This is a fantastic initiative. It has the architecture of giving entrepreneurs the space to do what they do best, creating products and services from ideas and making them work – the startup ecosystem. After making them work, curating them to be able to monetize it, before ramping it up in terms of scale.

This will take away the ‘babu’ or small time bureaucrats who have no clue as to what entrepreneurship is all about impeding the process. They do not even want to understand it. They just want to get in the way. They add friction and costs. All counterproductive.

If I am writing all this, believe me, I have had the opportunity to go down this road myself. But better, I have had the opportunity to listen to thousands of young people who have had to contend with this ‘harassment’. In one sweep our prime minister has gotten rid of this. Thumbs up to that.

Making it easier to register and get loans is the next big thing. Creating a tidy Rs. 10,000 crore ($1.5 billion) fund for startups is also a great initiative. If the ministries all ensure that there is minimum government, then I am sure the #StartupIndia will lift off.

Why should this be limited just to technology-led startups? What we need to do is to connect it to agriculture. Make AgriTech startups cool. This is where the real fun is going to be because India’s teeming millions of young people will have to be part of the food security apparatus. This needs careful handling as there is a message in the startup plan that only tech startups are in. Agro-startups will enhance our ability to grow our food locally and build the largest food basket in the world. Such startups will have the resilience to adapt to the vagaries of weather induced by climate change.

Will NABARD be up to the task? Can it leverage the fundamental momentum that is being given by Prime Minister Modi in solving the key issue of young people leaving their farms and going elsewhere?

Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, played host to an agriculture ministers’ meet which was flagged off by union minister Radha Mohan Singh and Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling. The keynote speech was by Dr. Ramesh Chand, a member of the NITI Aayog. He is a long-time professional in the field of agriculture. What he said was remarkable. How can we make #StartupIndia available to the farming sector? It is not just about giving sops but turning to making farming profitable once again with cheaper input costs.

Critically, technology is available for the farms. Many young and tech background people have found solace and their calling in buying poor and degraded land and making it into vibrant Agri businesses. There are many instances out there. Take, for instance, Lumiere Organic, headed by Manjunath and headquartered in Bangalore. It started with just growing what is now known as organic food and vegetables. It now has a roaring organic food restaurant. Guess who are its main customers? Technology-fatigued souls from Bangalore’s millions working in the hi-tech industries! All looking for the organic balm.

Manjunath wants to source products from far away Sikkim. So what is required? Get young entrepreneurs to do just what Manjunath and many others have done. Young people need to get the space to start and, if need be, fail. This is what entrepreneurship is all about.

Sikkim, under Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, has created a state that is fully organic. Sikkim is the brand; Sikkim needs to be leveraged. Can we now marry Prime Minister Modi’s #StartupIndia with #OrganicSikkim and field 1,000 young entrepreneurs? This is a challenge worth taking. This is a partnership worth exploring.

This perhaps is the opportunity of the decade before us. What it needs is to be able to have a quick mechanism like an incubator in Sikkim to leverage the full potential of #StartupIndia. (IANS)(Photo: http://corporateethos.in)

Next Story

‘Red Rot’ Infestation In Sugarcane Leads India Into Trouble

fungus infestation occurred mainly in the water-logged areas in central Uttar Pradesh, where the Co-0238 variety was not recommended.

0
Agriculture
Cane growers in Uttar Pradesh are slowly shifting to other varieties such as Co-0118 as the recovery rate of Co-0238 has gone down due to the infestation, Pixabay

The famed Co-0238 high-yielding sugarcane variety that has placed India on the verge of becoming the world’s largest sugar producer has run into trouble due to a ‘Red Rot’ infestation, forcing the government to hunt for a new strain to check a possible slump in output in the coming years.

Coimbatore-based Sugar Breeding Institute (ICAR-SBI), a constituent of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, has started working on a project to develop a variety that will address the problem of the fungal disease besides increasing cane yield and recovery rate (percentage of sugar to sugarcane).

The new variety is being developed at the institute’s Karnal-based centre, which may take up to three years to become ready for commercial use, ICAR-SBI Director Bakshi Ram told IANS.

“Broadly, there are three characters we are working on. These are increasing cane yield, resolving the Red Rot problem and improving sugar recovery. But focus in the new variety is on the Red Rot issue. It is welcoming if other two characters also gets better,” he said.

sugarcane
Sugar production in India in 2018-19 is expected to improve on the previous year’s record, which can make the country largest global producer, Pixabay

This fungal infection is said to be the most threatening sugarcane disease, commonly termed its cancer.

The area under Co-0238 has increased at a faster rate in subtropical regions after it was released in 2009-10, and now covers 1.19 million hectares.

In 2017-18, this variety made for a sugar recovery rate of over 13 per cent or production of 12.05 million tonnes in Uttar Pradesh alone as against the total production of around 32.25 million tonnes in the country.

Sugar production in India in 2018-19 is expected to improve on the previous year’s record, which can make the country largest global producer, provided Brazil continues with its decision to earmark more cane for producing ethanol.

Infestation of ‘Red Rot’ was first seen in 2016 in some pockets but its rapid proliferation has caused great worry to farmers, an official of the National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories (NFCSF) said.

sugarcane
Indian Council of Agricultural Research, has started working on a project to develop a variety that will address the problem of the fungal disease besides increasing cane yield and recovery rate,pixabay

“Cane growers in Uttar Pradesh are slowly shifting to other varieties such as Co-0118 as the recovery rate of Co-0238 has gone down due to the infestation. We think this variety may be phased out in the next four-five years,” said NFCSF Managing Director Prakash Naiknavare.

Bakshi Ram said the fungus infestation occurred mainly in the water-logged areas in central Uttar Pradesh, where the Co-0238 variety was not recommended.

Also Read: UN food agency Pushes ‘Smart Crops’ as Rice Alternative to defeat Hunger in Asia

“The infestation occurred due to plantation of the Co-0238 variety with other susceptible cane varieties in the water-logged areas,” he pointed out.

Replantation of with new Co-0238 seeds can provide relief to farmers and this advisory has been sent to all sugar mills in the state, he added. (IANS)