Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in the Agricultural Sector
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Over the recent past, there has been a tremendous incline in the start-up economy. However, a very small per cent of start-ups is focused on the agricultural sector. The agricultural sector plays a pivotal role in the growth and development of the Indian economy. It fulfils the food and nutrition requirements of 1.3 billion Indians as well as creates employment opportunities for the majority of the population.
A clear indication of growth can be seen in increased investor activity in the Agritech start-up space. 2018 saw a disclosed investment of about $65 million in Indian agriculture, which is a 21per cent increase from the previous year. While this demonstrates progression, the sector still struggles behind in certain segments such as storage and supply chain management. With this growing demand, there is a need for agri-entrepreneurs to employ innovative models and solve the problems in this sector such as dissemination of information, farm management, capital availability, farm mechanization, improved cultivars, environment-friendly pesticides and fertilizers and agricultural supply chain. There are various segments lacking development, which open up opportunities for entrepreneurs:
Cultivation: Traditional methods are still used by farmers today, driven by experiences, which are not practical today. With the development and integration of new equipment, practices and types of seeds, these tasks can be handled with much more efficiency. The available data could be utilized and worked on to benefit cultivation across the board.
Services: The lack of correct tools and machines can lead to a lot more damage than anticipated, but it may not be affordable by many farmers. This can be rectified by agro-dealers who can offer rental services of farm machinery. Knowledge of machinery and its appropriate utilization is another invaluable service that should be provided to farmers.
Post-Harvest: After harvesting of crops, processing, cleaning and packaging must be executed before the crop becomes fit for human consumption. This is a necessary step that cannot be done without the right tools. An example of this can be seen with Cassava; once harvested, with the help of agro-processors, it can be processed into garri, cassava flour and animal feed. The profits are greatly amplified by this post-harvest processing.
Infrastructure: The quality of produce is enhanced with improved transport facilities. It helps create a market for agricultural produce and facilitates interaction among geographical regions. Over 35% of produce is often damaged and rendered wasteful due to lack of proper storage and transportation. Therefore, proper stacking and transportation necessary.
Research and Development: With the growing demand and advancement in technology, there is a constant need for the development of new methods and seeds in the agricultural industry. This can only be done through research and development. Farmers can access these researches to overcome issues like seed problems, crop sustainability, pests and diseases etc. Research can also ensure the development of quality and environment-friendly agrochemicals.
Every stage in the value chain is important and dependent on one another to function properly and every stage is profitable. With the current challenges and opportunities prevalent in our country, entrepreneurship can provide innovative solutions to solve some of the critical issues in the agricultural sector.