A creative space where agricultural tech entrepreneurs, scientists and technology experts can collaborate to innovate cutting edge ideas across the whole agriculture value chain for smallholder farmers, was inaugurated at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

The innovation Hub (iHub) was opened by Telangana IT Minster Sri KT Rama Rao and Agriculture Minister Sri Pocharam Srinivas Reddy.

“This is a very important opening for the welfare of farmers. We have to enhance the farmers’ incomes. Seventy per cent of people in India are in agriculture. I want to see farmers able to reduce their investments and increase productivity so they do not have to go for loans every year,” said Telangana Agriculture Minister Sri PS Reddy.

To enhance and strengthen the strategic vision for iHub, a high level advisory council has been set up including; Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary for IT in Telangana; Anil Bhansali, Managing Director of Microsoft, India; Rama Iyer, senior Vice President of T-Hub; Dr Praveen Rao, Vice Chancellor of Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University; Mr. Parthasarathi, Principal Secretary, Agriculture in Telangana; David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT and convener Ram Dhulipala, Lead, Digital agriculture and youth at ICRISAT.The Telangana IT Minister Sri KT Rama Rao talked about how technology and science can help farmers. “I think the convergence of technology with the distressed sectors like agriculture, is the key to empowering our farmers and to improve productivity. Science cannot be for the sake of science and unless it changes things on the ground for the common person we cannot say that we’ve been able to make a social and economic impact.”

iHub includes a spread over 10,000 sq. ft., located at ICRISAT, India and will include a 40-seater accelerator facility.

“Entrepreneurs with passion are the ideal individuals to tackle problems using innovation and drive conversations at the intersection of agriculture, finance and IT. Promoting such intense collaborations between entrepreneurs and ICRISAT scientists is at the heart of the idea of iHub. We have already launched an international Agricultural Innovations Program with T-Hub and many AgriTech startups have shown interest in collaborating with us,” said Dr David Bergvinson, Director General of ICRISAT.

Agriculture in India is a $370 billion sector, but there is little application of technology to improve productivity and lift millions out of poverty. Farmers face a multitude of problems like water shortage, declining soil fertility, effects of climate change and rapid decrease of fertile agricultural lands. Innovation is imperative if agriculture has to feed a rapidly growing population with fewer resources.

This article was first published by ICRISAT.

Photo: International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.  CC BY-NC 2.0