New Delhi, December 13, 2017: The Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW), in partnership with Invest India, will launch the Agriculture Grand Challenge for agri-start-ups at TiE’s flagship mega conclave for entrepreneurs – ‘TiEcon Delhi 2017’. The Challenge is aimed at promoting innovation and entrepreneurship for agri-tech start-ups with commercially viable solutions. TiEcon Delhi 2017 is being held at Taj Palace in New Delhi on December 15 and 16, 2017

The Grand Challenge will be launched by Dr. Shobhana K Pattanayak, Secretary, Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmers Welfare, Government of India. The challenge will set the stage for the start-ups that are seeking support for their technology innovation by either funding and/or mentoring their fundamental concepts. It will also provide talented and creative innovators opportunities to pursue promising avenues at the frontier of technology.

The agricultural event is one of the various schemes initiated by DAC&FW, aligned with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Doubling Farmers Income by 2022’. The challenge aims to highlight the top agri-tech start-ups and provide them access to priority infrastructure, making agriculture an attractive sector for the country’s best brains.

Dr. Ashok Dalwai, Chief Executive Officer, National Rainfed Area Authority, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, and a proponent of science-based agriculture policy, will also be speaking at TiEcon Delhi on December 15, 2017. Dr. Dalwai will talk about the need for policies that promote climate-smart agriculture and technology interventions that can double farmers’ incomes.

The Agriculture Grand Challenge will also encourage its participants to come up with new concepts and innovations for 12 specific problem areas, namely:

  1. Soil Health: Development of simplified, sensor-based and quick soil testing method to test nutrients and micronutrients.
  2. Price Forecasting: Price forecast systems for pulses/oilseeds/potato/onion/tomato at the time of sowing.
  3. Inputs Availability: Availability of small agricultural implements/micronutrients/certified quality seeds through online/call centre interface – custom hiring centres.
  4. Extension: Dissemination of information to the last mile – agriculture extension, scheme information, processes, handholding support to benefit under different government schemes.
  5. Horticulture: Use of technology in sorting/grading/increasing shelf life of fruits/vegetables/flowers.
  6. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna: Yield estimation modelling at village/farm level.
  7. Food Adulteration: Use of litmus paper and other materials/technology to test adulteration of fresh produce. For e.g. Calcium Carbide for ripening of banana and mangoes and dyes for the colouring of vegetables.
  8. Sustainable Production: Alternate usage of paddy straw (left in the fields after harvesting of paddy) to discourage farmers from burning the same, especially in Haryana and Punjab.
  9. Crop Health: Use of technology to substitute the use of pesticides and insecticides to prevent pre-harvest losses.
  10. Agriculture Productivity: Use of technology to enhance agricultural productivity in India
  11. e-NAM: Quick grading and assaying solution for e-NAM (electronic National Agriculture Market).
  12. e-Market Place: Development of e-marketplaces to connect food processors with agri-preneurs to bridge the value gap – Farm to Fork.

On the basis of their scope of work, the start-ups will be handpicked by DAC&FW for the Idea Stage which includes a three-month incubation support with a leading agri-tech incubator; support by domain experts from the agriculture sector; and real-time testing of Proof of Concept. The start-ups that reach the Enterprise Stage will be awarded a three-month market access programme with the Ministry of Agriculture, supervision and handholding by domain experts from the agriculture sector, and access to the real-time agricultural market.

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