The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation and Cisco, in association with the Government of India, has announced the ‘Cisco Agri Challenge', which aims at mobilising agri-tech startups to innovate solutions that have the potential to positively impact at least 10 million small farmers, said a statement from networking giant.
With a prize of Rs 2 crores, the challenge will run in stages over twelve months. It will support participants in developing, testing, and scaling solutions that help alleviate the issues of low income and diminishing profitability faced by farmers in India, said the company.
“The Government of India strongly believes that public investment in both traditional science and frontier technology, will empower India to leapfrog in developing sustainable solutions for biodiversity preservation, environmental sciences, climate change and regenerative agriculture. Such a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder collaboration will play a catalytic role in implementing scientific and technological interventions in agriculture, thereby improving farmers' productivity and doubling farmers' income. It will give way to a new behaviour of seamless collaboration amongst the government, academia and Industry for addressing global societal problems,” said Prof K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India, who is co-hosting the challenge.
Highlighting the need to enhance value realisation for small and marginal farmers, which, in turn, will contribute to India's economic welfare, Harish Krishnan, Managing Director, Public Affairs and Strategic Engagements, Cisco India and SAARC, said, “Farmers are a critical part of India's socio-economic fabric, but they continue to face the challenge of low profitability, exacerbated by the pandemic. Through the Cisco Agri Challenge platform, we aim to accelerate digital transformation in the agriculture sector. We are not only incubating agritech startups, but also bringing together a powerful ecosystem of investors, domain experts and government stakeholders to galvanise action and bring to market scalable solutions that can help boost farmers' incomes and improve their decision-making.”
The Cisco Agri Challenge draws talent, technology, capital and attention to the most pressing land, crop, infrastructure, market fulfillment and social protection issues of small farmers, spurred by the pandemic. There is an urgent need to bring together resources and action to address population-scale challenges for the agriculture sector, which is the backbone of India.
Commenting on this announcement, Atul Satija – CEO, The/Nudge Foundation, said, “Our aim is to scale innovation for income growth of small farmers. This will axiomatically augment GVA and the rural economy. Small technological advantages can lead to an inordinate impact on agricultural livelihood. We're leveraging public-private partnerships to achieve big shifts.”