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Agriculture plays a vital role in India’s economy even today. However, when it comes to innovation, the sector is way behind others and still sees a majority of farmers using ages-old methods and techniques. In order to change the scenario and provide better tools for farmers to work with, the Indian government recently launched a new AGRI-UDAAN programme.

Being helmed by India’s premier farm research body, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the food and agri-business accelerator programme will be focused on mentoring agri-startups and getting them in touch with potential investors.

The programme is looking to recruit food and agri-businesses from all across India. The first round will witness 40 shortlisted startups pitching their business ideas to a panel of evaluators. Out of these 40, between 8 to 12 startups will make it to the final capacity building workshop.

The programme will also help in converting innovative ideas from India’s rural youth into viable businesses.

According to a statement given by Narendra Singh Rathore, deputy director general of agricultural education at ICAR, the main idea behind the programme is to garner the interest of Indian youth from all around country, especially rural area, and then train them on how they can add value to Indian farmers’ produce.

He also added that the selected startups will be put through an intensive training of six months, following which they will be connected to investors for funding.

The programme’s goal is to start a startup revolution in agriculture sector, something which is currently limited only to the services sector in the country.

The selected startups will be provided with an incubation space to run their businesses and have access to research laboratories and libraries. The programme will also provide a helping hand to these startups with various regulatory services like company registrations etc.

In the pre-launch phase of the programme that started two years ago in 2015, ICAR’s National Academy of Agricultural Research Management incubated several new startups which are now into developing smart irrigation systems, processing exotic grains, and manufacturing kinetic farm machines.

These startups included Bengaluru’s FlyBird Innovations, which is into developing smart irrigation techniques based on atmospheric humidity, water availability and soil temperature, and Hyderabad’s Inner Being, which processes locally grown and exotic millets and caters mainly to high-end wellness market.

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