To boost innovation and use of technology in agriculture and allied sectors, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday stressed on the need to promote startups and agri entrepreneurs. Reviewing the progress of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Modi underscored leveraging information technology to provide information-on-demand to farmers. Moreover, in order to “solve identified problems and design needs for tools and equipment that can reduce drudgery”, Modi asked ICAR to organize biannual hackathons, according to a statement by Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The prime minister also said that ease of access for farmers to farm equipment and transport facility from field to markets has to be ensured. The Department of Agriculture, Cooperatives and Farmers Welfare had launched an app called Kisanrath in April this year for facilitating transportation of agri produce by connecting farmers and traders with transporters.
Modi also stressed on the need to adopt organic and natural farming practices through a cluster-based approach. For this, the council has already set-up geo-referenced Organic Carbon Map of India and identified 88 biocontrol agents and 22 biopesticides to promote organic agriculture. “Climate change stress like heat waves, droughts, cold waves, submergence due to heavy rains cause huge losses and are a threat to agricultural livelihoods. Integrated farming systems have been developed to buffer farmers from such climate stress-induced losses,” PMO said. During the review meeting, Modi further highlighted the requirement to orient agricultural education and research systems based on “agro-climatic requirements” to meet the demands of the farmers.
Modi’s pitch for organizing hackathons and promoting agri startups came amid the launch of Atmanirbhar Bharat Innovation Challenge. The challenge was launched by Modi on Saturday to promote existing Indian apps and development of new apps with the potential to become global leaders. The initiative will run on two tracks; track 01 will identify “good quality apps for the leader-board and shall be completed in around a month,” PMO said in another statement. On the other hand, track 02 will work to help “create new champions in India by providing support in ideation, incubation, prototyping and roll out along with market access.” This will be across categories including e-learning, work-from-home, gaming, business, entertainment, office utilities, and social networking.