Fest for agri-food business incubation to support India's food security commitment
IIT Kharagpur, in association with NABARD, is organising the first-of-its-kind Agri-Food Techathon (AFT 2021) to promote the participation of India’s youth in innovation and entrepreneurship in different domains of the agri-food sector.
The techathon will be inaugurated by Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal on January 25.
The foundation of the Agri-Business Incubation Centre will also be laid at the inaugural event, which will carry out the mandate to incubate innovative ideas in agriculture and food technology domain for creating agri-preneurs.
Agriculture is the largest employment vertical with a GDP share of 14%. Over the years, India has witnessed a substantial increase in yields and crop diversity because of mechanisation and knowledge dissemination programmes. However, the steeping consumption because of population explosion has been a constant challenge, demanding rapid progress in the agricultural sector.
Talking about the initiative, IIT Kharagpur director V.K. Tewari said: “While India is moving at an accelerated pace towards automation and digitisation, there is a crucial need to complement it with automation in the rural livelihood and farm sector and warrant uniform progress. To achieve this goal, we are reaching out to the talented youth of this country through the Agri-Food Techathon. This platform will enable them to exhibit and depict their creativity, problem-solving and prototyping-skills in agriculture and food technology, thus leading to indigenous product development, employment generation and fulfilment of our promise to Atmanirbhar Bharat.”
ATF 2021, the national-level online technical fest, will be held January and March 2021. Over 750 university/college students, entrepreneurs and rural youths aged 20-25 years will join the fest.
Apart from workshops, mentorship and guest talks, AFT-2021 will host a competitive B-plan submission for the participants. Business and technology experts in areas covering farm mechanisation, AIML, IoT in agriculture, precision farming, greenhouse farming, organic farming, agricultural biotechnology, soil technology and testing, food processing, packaging and storage, food supply chain management will be among the participants.
Professional experts from the country’s premier institutions such as IIT Kharagpur, IARI New Delhi, CIAE Bhopal and founders and CEOs of different successful agri-food tech startups such as Sickle Foundation, Sfarms India, Fasal, Nutrigreen, Organic Farming, Cropin, B2V, Keyhti, Khadyam, Crofarm, WAycool and Villa Mart will take part in a sensitisation workshop.
More than 30 teams with high potential will be selected for formal association with ABIC, IIT Kharagpur. They will be offered assistance in the form of technology and business development mentorship, R&D support, laboratory / workshop / pilot plant access and funding opportunities through potential investors / accelerators. Business and technology experts from key domains of agriculture and food technology will be involved as panellists and mentors.
The event is being organised by the agricultural and food engineering department, Centre for Rural Development & Innovative Sustainable Technologies and Rajendra Mishra School of Engineering Entrepreneurship in association with NABARD.
“We will help the incubated start-ups to develop low-cost technologies and transfer them for sustainable development of rural communities. We shall further conduct hands-on training, workshops, and seminars for capacity building of farmers and unemployed rural youth,” said H.N. Mishra, professor-in-charge of the Agri Business Incubation Centre (ABIC).
Special emphasis will be laid on action-oriented research to promote climate-resilient agriculture in vulnerable districts, agricultural value chains, promote farmers’ collectives, value addition, market-linkage and risk management; also offering expert advisory services, policy advocacy, including building up human capital in rural areas.
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