In a bid to call for support for rural agritech startups, minister of state for finance Anurag Singh Thakur said that India needs to create agriculture entrepreneurs for which skilling and tech-enabled services are crucial.
Addressing the gathering at the inauguration of National Bank For Agriculture & Rural Development (Nabard) 38th Foundation Day, Thakur said that more rural startups should be strengthened with a view to create jobs and provide additional income support to agrarian sector.
Thakur said, “There are a large number of agriculture-based startups today. We need to strengthen rural startup ecosystem to encourage setting up of more rural startups by rural youth.” Thakur added he believes that this will help in promoting alternative income generation in rural areas.
Thakur said that unemployment is a major challenge faced by rural youth due to lack of skill and education. However, various government agencies are promoting and engaging capacity building of startups, incubators, especially in agriculture and allied activities. He added that with a low rate of technology adoption in the agriculture sector, it is crucial to enable seamless hybridisation of relevant technology by building a sustainable distribution model.
“Agri-based ecommerce platforms, farm monitoring, linking with fintech will help youth become ‘agripreneurs’,” he said. Thakur further said that government is supporting the sector significantly, public-private partnership is essential for boosting the agriculture startup culture in India, which could be a new engine for employment.
Emphasising on government’s focus on ‘gaon, garib aur kisaan‘, Thakur said big investment has been lined up and private sector support is required for building rural infrastructure for villages, the impoverished class and farmers.
India has over 200 agritech startups and a number of agritech startups have mushroomed in the last few years. The income of the farmers in India is a key focus area for the government and the Union Budget 2019 further reiterated the same. The current government has an ambitious aim, that of doubling the average income of farmers by 2022.
Both the central and state governments are proactively pursuing policies to improve the lives of farmers in the country. A 2018 report from Datalabs by Inc42 showed that the total funding in agritech startups in India has grown from $46.1 Mn (INR 320 Cr) 2017 to $66.6 Mn (INR 463 Cr) in 2018, which is indicative of the growing investor interest in this sector.