kharagpur, IIT Kharagpur’s Techathon for Agri-Food Business Incubation to support India’s Food Security Commitment
IIT Kharagpur in association with NABARD is organizing 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. AFT-2021 will be inaugurated by Hon’ble Shiksha Mantri Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ on January 25, 2021. 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-preneures.
Agriculture is the largest employment vertical with a GDP share of 14%. Over the years, India has witnessed a substantial increase in yields, crop diversity due to mechanization and knowledge dissemination programmes. However, the steeping consumption due to population explosion has been a constant challenge demanding rapid progress in the agricultural sector.
Talking about the initiative Prof. V K Tewari, Director, IIT Kharagpur opined, “While India is moving at an accelerated pace towards automation and digitization, 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.”
The national-level online technical fest spanned over January – March 2021, will have participation from over 750 university/college students, entrepreneurs and rural youths from across the country in the age range of 20-25 years with diverse academic background. 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 mechanization, 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. Renowned professional experts from countries premier institutions like IIT Kharagpur, IARI New Delhi, CIAE Bhopal and Founders / CEOs of different successful agri-food tech startups like Sickle Foundation, Sfarms India, Fasal, Nutrigreen, Organic Farming, Cropin, B2V, Keyhti, Khadyam, Crofarm, WAycool, Villa Mart, etc. are taking part in the Sensitization Workshop of the AFT-2021.
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 organized by the Agricultural & Food Engineering Department, Centre for Rural Development & Innovative Sustainable Technologies and Rajendra Mishra School of Engineering Entrepreneurship in association with NABARD.
Prof. H N Mishra, Professor-in-Charge of the Agri Business Incubation Centre (ABIC), remarked, “At our Centre, we will facilitate the incubated startups 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.”
Special emphasis will be given through 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 of human capital in rural areas.