The startup boom that was so far limited to the services sector, will now see a revolution in agriculture too, as the Narendra Modi government now shifts focus to farming startups. But that could mean more mechanisation and farmers whose daily needs depend upon their manual labour will lose employment.
To back the youths, who aim to make an entry in the agricultural business, the government targets to launch a new programme -- Agri Udaan -- on Friday. It will guide startups from different corners of the country and connect them with potential investors, Mint reported.
"The idea is to attract the youth from rural India and elsewhere, and train them so they can add value to the farmers' produce," said Narendra Singh Rathore, deputy director general of agricultural education at Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
The programme will provide space to startups to run their businesses and have access to the research laboratories and libraries. It will also help them with company registration.
In 2015, the ICAR's National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NARM) had launched a programme in Hyderabad that mentored new agro-based startups like Inner Being and FlyBird Innovations, which are now processing exotic grains, manufacturing farm machines and coming up with smarter ways to improve the irrigation system in India.
According to NARM, such startups also managed large funding of up to Rs 1.3 crore from corporates and venture capitalists.
Agri Udaan will try to connect to various startups from cities like Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata and Hyderabad. The programme will shortlist 40 startups in the first round for a presentation to the panel. Evaluators will then select about eight to 12 startups for the final workshop.
Agro startups will be a threat to Indian farmers
Farmers in India are already being forced to give up their lands for expanding industrial activities. Also, the increased mechanisation is snatching away manual labour and a lack of proper training to farmers and workers for other jobs is making it more difficult for them to meet their livelihood needs, found a Reuters report.
The question that stares in India at the face is: If machines replace the farmers' jobs who have known only one way to earn living all their lives, how will they survive?
The report also claimed that the government's rural employment programmes are paralysed and unable to revive the low-income structure of rural workers.
Employment in the agriculture has dropped, but jobs in the services sector are seeing a rise, according to McKinsey Global Institute.