Tag Archives: farmers

More agri start-ups needed in 2021

Farmers’ agitation tells us the common farmer of the country continues to face multiple problems, from lower remuneration for the produce to transportation and not to mention vagaries of nature, including the changing climate. In the age of ‘Digital India’, ‘Start up India’ and ‘Make in India’, the need is for innovative start ups that can actually help the smallest of farmers in remotest of places

Nivedita Khandekar

More than half of India’s population depends on agriculture as its livelihood option and the farmers, especially the small-landholding ones, have continued to face multiple problems.

The ongoing farmers’ agitation and the recent three laws related to agriculture passed by the Modi government notwithstanding, agriculture has been fraught with multitude of problems and the farmer and his family face the brunt directly or indirectly.

There has been a longtime demand to bring about changes in the manner in which a farmer gets paid for his produce. The government has harped on its agenda to double the farmers’ income and claims to be working towards it. Much of the benefits of different government schemes are grabbed inevitably by big land-owning farmers or relatives of the local body office bearers. The real needy, vulnerable farmer is left to fend for himself/herself.

A vital issue is ensuring that the farmer gets fair price for his produce. And on time. The supply chain running without any disturbance is equally important. We saw in 2020 how the pandemic disturbed this supply chain at several places but thanks to ingenuity of the farmers, scores of ‘farm to colony/society gate’ options surfaced across India. If this ‘farmer-to-consumer’ connections could be made during the pandemic induced lockdown, there should be no reason why it cannot work in normal times.

All that the farmers and farm produce need is to be treated as worthy of not just family entrepreneurship but a possible business opportunity that is beneficial in both B2B and B2C cases. There already are a number of start-ups – agri-tech start-ups to be precise – that have been using remote sensing, drones, data analytics, artificial intelligence and various internet of things (IOT) devices and services to help farmers, consumers or even some big companies and retailers.

Agribazaar is one such agri-tech start up which promises ‘creating an efficient and robust agri value chain’ for buyers, seller and agri-preneurs. The company says that a farmer needs to register himself/herself, enter details about his produce where buyers can directly place orders. They decide between themselves and finalise the deal, after
which AgriBazaar picks up the produce from the farmer’s field and sends it to the buyer.

Isn’t this what is troubling most of the farmers? Getting the price that they quote without any middleman/men? Without worrying about logistics for transporting his produce!

Another key field is the immense wastage – some experts believe it is almost around 40% of the fresh, post-harvest produce – due to a variety of reasons – spoilage, low shelf-life, and many a times, over-ripening during transportation. Identifying this gap, a start up searched for and came up with a non-destructive and accurate qualitative grading of fresh food across the supply chain.

The agri-tech startup qZense claims that it aims to transform the Indian fresh food supply chain industry with its IOT based solutions.

qZense aims to empower food businesses and retailers to not only minimize their produce loss but also to determine the optimal margins of freshness. “Its software platform offers two products to ensure an effective and seamless delivery of service.

The Q-Scan is a handheld scanning device for grading the internal quality. The second product Q-Log comprises olfactory loggers responsible for measuring the quality of produce during storage and in logistics,” a statement said.

These are just two of the examples. What is needed in 2021 is proliferation of such ventures and bring peace to the small land holding farmers.

A 2019 NASSCOMM report ‘Agritech in India: Emerging Trends in 2019’ had pointed out how in 2016, more than 350 AgriTech startups had raised USD 300 millions globally and Indian investment accounted for 10 %. Karnataka and Maharashtra accounted for 50% of the Agritech start ups in last five years, the report said.

The two progressive states – Karnataka and Maharashtra – doing well is no news. What needs to be done in 2021 is to expand this across states and make sure that the needy farmer is benefitted.

Things are definitely changing and for better.

According to ‘India’s Agritech Market Landscape Report 2020’, India’s agritech market is expected to boom by the rise in rural internet penetration, rapid digital transformation due to Covid-19 coupled with rising investor interest. It also mentioned that as of 2020, India is home to more than 1000 agritech startups (compared to just 43 in 2013) with
companies witnessing a spike in demand during the lockdown this year.

So, there is hope.

Nivedita Khandekar is an independent journalist based in Delhi. She writes on environmental and developmental issues. She can be reached at nivedita_him@rediffmail.com or follow her on twitter on @nivedita_Him

Let’s Debate: Farmers and Global Reset

Rajiv Lochan

There should be no fear of any global reset. The belief that big corporates will take over etc. has no bases on the ground. At the same time, the services that are needed in present times for civilised living can only be provided by corporate enterprises. No individual can run a telephone system of the kind that you need today. No government can run large scale services of the sort that we expect for civilised living.

Corporates are at the heart of the global citizen who believes in equality of all and freedom for all. Remove the corporate, big or small, and within a few weeks humans will be reduced to warring tribes in which only one or two persons per tribe have any freedom. Would love to hear any other view on how the future would be/ could be/ should be.

Think of left parties. In india and elsewhere. They are little more than tribal gangs. Anyone who holds a slightly different view is dealt with roughly; put to death even. They have failed to create even a single asset anywhere which can be used by anyone other than the privileged few. In contrast look at corporate giants like Larsen and Tubro. Fully funded by its own workers. Working single mindedly to create value for all irrespective of social origins or status. Ditto other big corporates.

On farmers

Irrespective of whether the laws (the new farm laws introduced by the Modi government) are allowed to exist or are dissolved, the farmer, in the present form, is on the death bed. That is what I have been writing for the last one year. Earlier, I have written of how the small farmer is important for our economy. But not this small farmer who is committed to archaic kind of farming. Rather the small farmer who does farming in conjunction with industry. That by the way, is true even today. Only that farmer survives. who has a jod dhanda. The rest simply lead a life of scrounging.

Rajiv Lochan is a scholar-historian, author and a popular columnist

Who will listen to the farmers?

Suresh Ediga

I happened to be at the farm over the weekend, when I took the call from the farmer. He was calling from Maharashtra and when he learnt I was farming here (in the US)- first he was surprised then he got curious and started a barrage of questions

Do American farmers also commit suicide?
Yes, unfortunately. It is not as rampant as it is in India

What problems do they have?
They have the same problems as you do. They don’t get a fair price for their produce. Their subsidies are given to the companies. The crop insurance works for the insurance companies not for the farmers

Farmers here don’t get much help. How about farmers there, don’t they get any help?
The farmers here own anywhere from 50-60 acres to well over 1000 acres. The small farmers own anywhere from 60 to 100 acres.

Really, they own 100 acres and still they are small farmers?
Yes. And they are working alone in the farms, isolated and away from the rest of the community. When they find themselves in trouble there is no helpline for them nor any help coming their way

Do they have water problems?
No. They have plenty of water. The entire farm is connected with drip irrigation.

The farmer went on to talk about how there have been very little to no rains. There is drought and no respite from weather. Yes, there are upcoming elections and so there is some hope that the government will do something.

In some other news about farmers which, by the way, is hard to get these days

Onion prices are on the rise and the government is forced to do something only because of elections. They are now importing onions to flood the market with more onions to bring the price down

As per the Rajasthan State Co-operative Bank Limited (RSCB) website, a total of 20,79,492 farmers are registered for Kharif. But only 13,71,761 farmers got the loans leaving out almost 7 lakh farmers. So far, the disbursed loan amount stands at Rs 28,60.13 crore for this season.

And we have the Finance minister rolling back everything in the budget, announcing major cuts in corporate taxes, having back to back meetings with Corporates, but no such in person meetings with the farmers

The problem of farmer suicides is only getting worse. How can a government attempt to fix the problem when they can’t even acknowledge and face the reality. Ncrb has been shut since 2016, RTI has been muted – how will and who will listen to the farmers.

Are we willing to listen?
Are we willing to question?
Are we willing to do something, just anything?

The author, Suresh Ediga, has been involved in volunteering for more than 18 years now. And during the course of these 18 years, he has taken several projects at an individual level and has been able to implement them successfully.

NEWS this week: From Prime Minister’s Office

Massive Make in India success with the inauguration of the world’s largest mobile manufacturing unit in Noida


Massive Make in India success with the inauguration of the world’s largest mobile manufacturing unit in Noida


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Farmers’ income receives a boost with 1.5 times increase in MSP for kharif crops

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