A 2-day high level workshop was conducted in Gujarat with key agriculture sector stakeholders from across the country to dissect the ongoing challenges within the sector and its startup ecosystem, and address them through multi-partisan collaborative efforts.

Bankers Institute of Rural Development (BIRD), in partnership with iCreate, hosted an ‘Interface Workshop with Agri Startups’ – a knowledge exchange programme among key sector stakeholders, aimed at stimulating discussions towards conducive policy support for an effective agri-startup ecosystem in India.

Held on July 25-26, 2019 at the iCreate campus in Dev Dholera, Ahmedabad, the residential workshop was attended by 26 participants from across the country. It was aimed at deliberating upon and addressing prevailing challenges within the agriculture sector such as declining groundwater levels, poor quality of seeds, lack of mechanization, inadequate facilities for transportation and storage, scarcity of credit, limited access to superior technology and better farmer to market connect. Such gaps serve as opportunities for agritech startups in India, which, with conducive policy support, could effectively strategize towards addressing the issue of doubling farmers’ income.

The workshop further deep dived upon some of the challenges that agri startups face, such as growth plan viz. policy hurdles, difficult access to capital, limited investors and funding arrangements. Towards these challenges, the dialogue touched upon significant aspects for startups in the sector such as understanding startups, innovation and IPR, business models for startups formation and legal requirements, potential areas for startups in the sector, role of business incubators and accelerators, funding arrangements – bootstrapping, seed funding, angel funding, venture capital, bank finance-issues affecting startup growth, support from Government of India.

The workshop was inaugurated by Mr. A.C.Sarmah, FM, BIRD, and Mr. Anupam Jalote, CEO, iCreate, who complemented BIRD and NABARD for having considered iCreate for its association for such capacity building workshop in an area for which iCreate is fully dedicated.

The workshop saw key delegates representing the entire spectrum of the agriculture sector, right from the government to incubators to NGOs. Resource persons from various premier institutes dealing with agri startups viz., ICRISAT, NABVENTURES; Dept. of Science & Technology, Govt. of Gujarat; Yes Bank Ltd; Digi-Agri; SVIPF and iCreate took part in deliberations on different subjects besides Mr. A. C. Sarmah from BIRD who initially dealt upon the issue of Understanding  innovation and Start-up – initiatives and Road Ahead for Agristartups.

Mr. Sarmah highlighted how over years, govt. has created a conducive ecosystem for startup growth by increasing the number of years for startup recognition, reconstituting IMB, reforming norms for angel investment, self-certification and tax rebate etc. and above all by launching the interactive Startup India portal. He also highlighted the future potential areas for promotion of agristartups in the light of agriculture grand challenge and impressed that use of IOT, AI can play a key role in bringing revolution in the area of farming as a service.

iCreate is among India’s leading business incubators promoting startups and innovations in diverse sectors. Supported by the Government of Gujarat, iCreate has been consistently aligning its initiatives with the goals of the State and Central Governments, viz. programmes for budding entrepreneurs in sectors like agri-tech, water-tech, renewables, etc. For this workshop, iCreate partnered with BIRD, a premier training institute and autonomous society promoted by NABARD, which offers training, research and consultancy and other related activities in the field of Agriculture and Rural Development. Through this workshop, iCreate and BIRD aim to facilitate more conversations around agri startups and innovations in the country and bridge the gaps of communication and innovation by various bodies within the sector.