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NABARD’s Blended Fund for Agri-tech Startups


Why is it in the news?

  • NABARD is launching a ₹1000-crore blended fund to support Agri-tech startups.

 More about the news

  • The fund aims to support technology-driven agricultural startups and rural enterprises. It seeks to address the challenges faced by these startups in scaling up their operations due to limited access to equity and debt instruments.
  • The fund will invest in startups that are actively involved in creating new forward and backward linkages in the rural ecosystem, thereby contributing to the overall development of the agricultural sector.

About Agri-tech Startups

  • Agri-tech startups are individuals or segments of companies that leverage technology to enhance various aspects of agriculture, including productivity, efficiency, and output.

Services Provided by Agri-tech Startups:

  • Promotion of Smart Agriculture: Agri-tech startups provide valuable information on crop yields, rainfall patterns, pest infestation, and soil nutrition through technology-driven solutions.
  • Farming as a Service: Some startups, such as EM3 Agri Services, offer farming services and machinery rentals to farmers on a pay-for-use basis, facilitating access to modern agricultural equipment and practices.
  • Big Data Analytics: These startups develop farm-specific, data-driven diagnostics using advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence, enabling farmers to make informed decisions regarding soil and crop health management.

Challenges Faced by Agri-tech Startups:

  • Incubators’ Competence: Many incubators supporting agri-tech startups may still be in the early stages of the learning curve, leading to gaps in mentorship and support.
  • Business Model: Some startups struggle to connect their solutions to the real problems faced by a large number of stakeholders in the agricultural value chain, affecting their scalability and sustainability.
  • Lack of Seed Fund: Limited access to initial funding poses a significant challenge for early-stage agri-tech startups, hindering their ability to develop and market innovative solutions.
  • Lack of Mentorship: Agri-tech entrepreneurs often face a lack of mentorship and guidance, especially in navigating the complexities of the agricultural sector and building scalable businesses.
Key Initiatives Taken

·       Digital Agriculture Mission (DAM) 2021: The mission includes initiatives such as the India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA), Farmers Database, and funding support to states for adopting new agricultural technologies (NeGPA), aimed at promoting digitalization and innovation in agriculture.

·       Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY): This program, initiated from 2018-19, focuses on promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in agriculture, providing support to agri-tech startups and fostering a culture of innovation in the sector.

·       Priority Sector Lending Facility: Agri-tech startups can avail loans under the Priority Sector lending facility by banks as per the directives of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), facilitating access to financial resources for their growth and expansion.

·       NIDHI Seed Support Program (NIDHI-SSP): Under the Department of Science & Technology (DST), this program supports early-stage startups, including agri-tech ventures, by providing seed funding and other essential resources to nurture their innovative ideas and technologies.

 

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