“Our mission at ICRISAT is to make smallholder farmers in the drylands prosperous, not just self-sufficient. That is why we are engaged in promoting an inclusive and technology-based entrepreneurship and agribusiness program,” said ICRISAT Director General William D. Dar in his address during the inaugural program of the Agribusiness Fair held at the ICRISAT headquarters on 17 January.
A one-day Agribusiness Fair organized by ICRISAT proved to be a major success, attracting more than 300 agribusiness innovators and entrepreneurs. The activity gave participating agribusiness ventures a chance to explore numerous opportunities within
the sector and avail of the technology upscaling and commercialization services of the Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) Program under ICRISAT’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP).
Welcoming the participants, Dr Kiran Sharma, Chief Executive Officer, ICRISAT-AIP, stressed that events such as these contribute to the sustainable transformation of the agricultural sector. “Entrepreneurship at the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) level is one of the most efficient ways of taking products of research for development to the farmers,” he added.
Seeking further active participation from potential entrepreneurs present at the gathering, Dr Sharma assured them of effective business incubation support to help take their agribusiness ideas and ventures forward.
Dr AS Rao, Former Advisor, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India, in his special address to the participants, emphasized on the growing prospects in the agribusiness sector for innovators and entrepreneurs and shared valuable business insights.
Mr SM Karuppanchetty, Chief Operating Officer (COO), ABI Program, briefed the participants of the day’s activities which included parallel sessions focusing on agro-tech business opportunities, innovation, new ventures, food business, seed and farm business, and fund facilitation for potential agribusiness entrepreneurs.
Dr Saikat Datta Mazumdar, COO, NutriPlus Knowledge (NPK) Program spoke on business opportunities in the food sector while Mr S Aravazhi, COO, Innovation and Partnership (INP) Program, elaborated on funding opportunities to potential entrepreneurs through the Technopreneur Promotion Programme and the Technology Development Board.
Seventy-six potential entrepreneurs submitted business proposals to a selection committee, of which 10 were picked as potential clients for seed business incubation, 9 for entrepreneurial support, 21 for food business incubation support, and 36 for farm venture support. Fifteen proposals were screened for innovative ideas, three of which were recommended for funding.
“The event proved to be a highly valuable initiative to guide and mentor individuals interested in agribusiness. I can now link my big ideas with the available support systems to nurture my interests. The Fair helped me interact with several entrepreneurs in the sector and has given me insights on various funding schemes, incubation support, and market information,” said Dr Janaki Srinath, a participant at the Agribusiness Fair.