Experts discuss the need for an Indo-Dutch agtech innovation platform

The Indian agtech platform has picked up a significant amount of momentum in the last four to five years, and mostly after foreign collaborations. At TechSparks 2021, industry experts came together to discuss the potentialities of the Indo-Dutch agtech innovation platform.

The Indian agtech ecosystem is almost a decade old now. However, significant changes have hit the surface in the last few years with almost 1,000 agtech entrepreneurs trying to solve varied issues in the ecosystem like farmers’ access to the market, insurance policies, and access to data and advisory inputs.

Partnership and collaboration seems to be the major factor behind such a massive growth of the Indian agtech ecosystem. However, to take the next big leap, International collaboration is the order of the day. The thought especially points to the Netherlands, a country known for various agtech segments like digital farming, precision agriculture, control farming agriculture, etc. On the contrary, certain farming models of India also need to reach the European circuit. Thus, there is an urgent need to kickstart the Indo-Dutch agtech innovation platform.

At a session of TechSparks 2021, YourStory’s flagship startup-tech conference, Rob van Oudheusden, Co-founder, Smart Farming Tech; Kunal Prasad, Co-founder, CropIn; Michiel van Erkel, Agricultural Counsellor for India and Sri Lanka, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, New Delhi; Pooja Chaudhry, Senior Policy Officer for Agriculture, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, New Delhi; and Huub Edelman, Innovation Architect, World Startup Factory; came together to discuss the topic: ‘Kickstarting the Indo-Dutch agtech innovation platform’.

The session was moderated by Hemendra Mathur, Co-founder, Thinkag.

The innovative platform

“The holistic approach towards maintaining the environmental and social impact needs a joint effort while maintaining the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Michiel. “Besides, several Dutch companies had their presence in India for a long time now, contributing to these subjects, along with the expansion of vocational institutes,” he added.

He said he gets reminded about last year when private sector enterprises, NGOs, and the government collaborated to form an Indo-Dutch task force on making the laws stringent on food loss.

Michiel also said that the global pandemic has brought a change in the attitude of entrepreneurs and consumers about agriculture. However, India has a strong agtech network with more than 450+ agtech startups providing opportunities to link farmers to the market and to improve climate-based agriculture, developing innovations for better production.

Interestingly, the Netherlands has also been seeing a similar kind of development in the agtech sector. Michiel said he feels the need for an Indo-Dutch agtech ecosystem, serving as an innovative platform, and supported by venture capitalists, financial institutions, and knowledge institutes. “This will help to speed up the cooperation and implementation of new tech into agriculture”, he says.

“With both the countries willing to develop specific skills impacting the sustainability of the countries, startups can take the lead in forming solutions to help in the process,” explained Pooja. “Thus, we started interacting with people belonging from different knowledge and financial institutions in India, and also the startup owners to come together and create an impactful platform for agtech,” she added.

“From the sessions attended by startups and scaleups, we came across certain important value propositions. The first one is an online one-stop-shop where both the countries can find opportunities, interact with each other while making a note of the things happening around. Secondly, forming certain co-creation tracks, and finally seeking the access to funding,” clarified Huub on forming the bi-lateral community.

Data and digitisation in Indian farming

In India, we had developed apps for farmers dealing in cotton, potato, and coffee. These apps ensure them with the required agricultural information through their user profile. Our apps also provide a holistic farming approach, starting from field preparation to irrigation, fertilisation, and everything in between, while stressing the pesticide management programs. Besides, these apps also work online, and are available in vernacular languages filled with images and video”, described Rob regarding the usability of the smart farming tech.

Rob also said that conversing in local languages and working with the local knowledge management team was a major challenge. However, they had a team working in those areas and thus were able to make the process smooth with practices, and conversations.

“We are using satellite-based monitoring for farmers for implementation of the larger programmes. Besides, we are helping the banks to get the credit-worthiness score of the farm reports through satellites by looking at the farms, thereby ensuring them with the opportunities at the click of a button,” explained Kunal while stating the enterprise-level management.

Kunal feels the Netherlands is the entry point for the European economy and also helps understand farming in detail, as all the latest technologies are implemented in regions across the country.

“The diversity of talent in the country and support for startups also becomes a strategic point of choosing the Netherlands for leading initiatives,” he added.

The trust of the locals, implemented with the innovative strategies and finding the right partner on board, sums up the widespread approach to startups and collaborators of making the Indo-Dutch agtech innovation platform a success.

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Edited by Megha Reddy


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