The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation and Cisco, in association with the Government of India, today announced the ‘Cisco Agri Challenge’, aimed at mobilizing agri-tech startups to innovate solutions that have the potential to positively impact at least 10 million small farmers. With a prize purse of INR 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 farmers in India are facing.
Prof. K VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Govt. of India, who is co-hosting the challenge, said, “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 behavior of seamless collaboration amongst the Government, Academia, and Industry for addressing global societal problems.”
Highlighting the need to enhance value realization 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 galvanize action and bring to market scalable solutions that can help boost farmers’ incomes and improve their decision-making.”
The Cisco Agri Challenge is a platform that 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.“
The conceptualization and management of the Cisco-Agri Challenge have been undertaken by The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation. Participants will be capacitated by an eminent circle of partners and experts like Mark Kahn (Managing Partner, Omnivore), Anil Kumar SG (Founder & CEO, Samunnati), Samit Ghosh (Founder, Ujjivan) and Shamika Ravi (Non-resident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution). Knowledge and Technology Partners include NSRCEL, IIM Bangalore, Purdue University and Sattva Consulting. The Investor Circle consists of Bharat Innovation Fund, Aavishkaar Capital, Menterra, etc. We will also have a Policy Circle, enabling access to administrative units and communities for pilots. Immersion Partners include The AgHub, Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU), Nagaraja Prakasam, etc.