Government invites agritech startups to resolve sector issues

By Libza Mannan  

The Agriculture Grand Challenge, open to budding entrepreneurs and agritech startups, seeks solutions to 12 key agriculture problems. The programme aims to benefit participants through incubation, mentoring, and access to markets.

Over 58 percent of India’s rural households depend on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood. According to Agfunder’s AgTech Investing Report for 2016, around 53 Indian agritech startups raised Rs 313 million in funding. The report also reveals that India continues to be one of the top six geographies for agritech deals.

With an aim to boost India’s ranking in agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture launched the first-of-its-kind Agriculture Grand Challenge in December 2017, inviting agritech startups to solve key challenges facing the sector.

How can agri startups benefit?

A joint initiative by Ministry of Agriculture and Startup India Hub, the programme is designed for budding agri entrepreneurs as well as existing agri startup founders. Early-stage startups can apply for the idea stage whereas others can apply for ready-market stage.

Twelve startups from each of the early stage, and ready-market stages (24 in total) would be selected to address the 12 themes (key problems) at the programme.

The programme aims to benefit participants via incubation, mentoring, and access to markets.

The idea-stage startups will get three-month incubation support to go from idea to prototype, with hand-holding from experts of agriculture sector and real-time testing of proof of concept.  The ready-market solutions will get to be part of a three-month market access programme aimed at easy adoption of their innovation, mentoring by domain experts, and easy access to agriculture market.

Apart from the 24 startups that are selected for the programme, the remaining participants will get to be part of a series of agri-masterclasses. These would be organised across the country to provide networking and mentoring opportunity to agritech startups.

The 12 themes for the challenge

The initiative is looking for new concepts and innovations in the areas of simplified soil testing methods; assaying and grading solution; development of e-marketplace; price forecasting during sowing; last-mile information dissemination; yield estimation; sorting and grading of produce; adulteration testing; custom hiring centres; crop residue disposal; prevention of pre-harvest and post-harvest losses; and enhancing agricultural productivity.

What agri startups need to know

The challenge is being hosted at Startup India Hub and the last date to apply is February 28, 2018. The programme has already garnered interest from over 500 startups and the Startup India team highlights that they plan to roll out more such programmes and provide a business-to-government platform to nurture the startup ecosystem in India.


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