Indian Govt Funds 66 Agritech Startups To Spur Millet Consumption

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Besides these, another 25 startups have also been approved for further funding by the government

The startups have been funded to support sustainable production, develop market and value chain and to spur research and development

India is currently home to more than 2,000 agritech startups, which the government aims to scale to 10,000 in near future

The government has so far invested around INR 6.25 Cr in 66 agritech startups to spur the consumption of millet in the country, said Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday (November 24). 

He also noted that another 25 startups have also been approved for further funding. 

The minister noted that the agriculture ministry funded these players to support sustainable production, create awareness for higher consumption, develop market and value chain as well as to spur research and development activities.

“(The) Government is providing support to startup entrepreneurs for recipes and value-added products to promote consumption of millet,” said the minister.

Tomar made the comments while addressing a gathering of more than 100 high commissioners and ambassadors in the run up to the International Year of Millets 2023 celebrations. 

The high-profile was also attended by Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar, Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs Meenakashi Lekhi, Secretary for economic relations Dammu Ravi,and other senior bureaucrats. 

In a statement, the Ministry also stated that the country was currently home to more than 500 startups working in the ‘millet value-added chain.’ Additionally, around 250 startups have also been incubated under the RKVY-RAFTAAR (Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana – Remunerative Approaches for Agriculture and Allied Sectors Rejuvenation) scheme by the Indian Institute of Millets Research. 

The high profile was also attended by Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar, Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs Meenakashi Lekhi, Secretary for economic relations Dammu Ravi, and other senior bureaucrats. 

Addressing the event, Tomar also said that government think tank NITI Aayog and the World Food Program will also work together to identify and solve challenges related to ‘mainstreamisation’ of millets and the relevant global knowledge exchange.

Push For Agritech Space 

The announcement comes amidst a slew of initiatives announced by the Ministry to encourage agritech startups in the country. 

Last month, Tomar announced an INR 500 Cr accelerator to scale up agritech startups in the country. The Ministry also set up a steering committee and an executive panel solely dedicated to guiding the overall agritech startup ecosystem. 

It also announced initiatives such as a single-window clearance agency for agritech players to streamline linkages with certification agencies and other financial institutions. 

In the Budget this year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a blended capital fund for agritech startups and even backed leveraging ‘Drone Shakti’ for crop assessment, digitisation of land records and spraying of insecticides.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that agritech startups would augur well for the Indian agriculture sector, Minister for State for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh has called agritech startups as critical to India’s future economy

Currently, home to more than 2,000 agritech startups, the government aims to scale this number to 10,000 in the coming future.

Called the backbone of the Indian economy, agriculture is the biggest employer in the country and contributed around 53.89% of India’s total gross value added (GVA) in 2021. Marred by older methods of farming and a lack of better price discovery platforms, the farmers barely make ends meet and continue to be impoverished. 

Agritech startups have helped open new avenues for farmers, from streamlining market linkages to enabling tellers to sell their produce at better prices. This has led to the development of a burgeoning marketplace that has suddenly seen the emergence of many players.

Inc42 estimates the Indian agritech industry to grow to a size of $24.1 Bn by 2025. In total, homegrown agritech startups have raised close to $1.9 Bn in funding since 2014.



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