The National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) and Syngenta Foundation India (SFI)are tackling unemployment among rural youth and focusing on improving the plight of farmers in rural India through an Agri-Entrepreneurship (AE) model. An AE brings together services such as credit and market linkage, access to high-quality inputs and crop advisory for a group of farmers. The model is currently active across seven States and, as of October 2018, over 580 AEs are associated with SFI serving over 75,000 farmers. It is going to be scaled up to different parts of the country. State Rural Livelihood Missions are showing keen interest to transform SHG women as AEs.
The Agri-Entrepreneur (AE) Enterprise platform aims to optimize all processes, from the selection of an AE leading up to their day-to-day business activities and farmer interactions. It will lead to faster scaling up, adding greater transparency and facilitating the creation of networks for seamless knowledge transfer.
Talking about the Agri Entrepreneurs, Dr W.R.Reddy IAS, Director General NIRDPR said, “Farmers across the country at present need commodity-centric experts in the form of service providers who could bring in knowledge related to crop science, input services, value addition and market linkages as a one-stop solution to the farmer.”
“The AEs we are promoting with the support of SFI will be spread across the country in a scalable proposition in the next five years, providing market-ready services to the farmers while being able to generate revenue for themselves,” he added.
The Digital Platform serves as a tool for providing personalized digital extension services to the farmer.
Based on principles of micro-learning, the content is created in-house and validated by agriculture experts. Currently, the content for the advisory is available in 5 local languages. Kuza technologies is the technology partner to this initiative and offer integrated technology solution for every stage of AE model from the selection of AEs to impact assessment of the initiative.
Speaking about this project, Mr Prakash Apte, Chairman Syngenta Foundation India said that the major challenge with Indian agriculture has been delivery of the right technologies at right time and at an affordable price. Agri-entrepreneurs model is a decentralized village level delivery model, where farmers can access knowledge, technologies and markets at one place.
Having observed the impact of AEs on improving the income of the farmers, the State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLM) of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra have joined hands with NIRDPR to promote AEs in a scalable proposition in their respective States.
At present, the AE programme is underway in five districts in Bihar and two districts in Andhra Pradesh and in 13 districts of Maharashtra.
The candidates undergo a rigorous selection process, including a 45-day fully residential programme.
They are exposed to functional knowledge related to local crops, basic aspects of Agri-Business Management as well as soft skills. At the end of the programme, the AEs are provided with a digital kit, which has a unique device which streams HD videos without access to the internet.