Rajasthan Agritech Meet fostering economic growth
Organised jointly by the State government and FICCI, Rajasthan Global Agritech Meet (GRAM) in Kota was certainly the biggest symbol of agricultural dynamism in the country. BK Jha Reports
Following the success of Rajasthan Global Agritech Meet (GRAM) 2016, which was organised in Jaipur in November 2017, Government of Rajasthan looked forward to replicate it’s accomplishment at regional level. GRAM 2017 was organised Kota in association with FICCI from May 24. One of the core objectives of this threeday mega event was to expose the farmers of the Kota Division to best agriculture practices and define the next qualitative leap in State’s agriculture growth story. The event brought all stakeholders - farmers from in and around Kota, academicians, technologists, agribusiness companies and policy makers- on a single platform for knowledge sharing.
The November event had seen for the first time since independence, the participation of representatives of several countries like Nigeria, Australia, Tajikistan, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, UK, Serbia, Kazakhstan and World Bank. As many as 38 MoUs worth Rs. 4,400 crores were signed during the event. Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu emphasized on the need for diversification of crops as the only way forward for the progress of the agriculture sector and in turn the nation. Apart from this, organic farming, processing, cold storage chains, development, post harvesting as well as should also be given adequate attention. This will also check the migration of farmers from agriculture to other sectors. He also said that Government should focus on the 4 ‘I’ for the well being of the farmers -- Irrigation, Infrastructure, Interest Rate and Insurance.
Naidu also reiterated the fact that the Central Government is committed to achieve the Prime Minister’s mission of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 and GRAM being the one of its kind agri event in the country, is a significant step in this direction.
Highlighting the achievements of the GRAM held in Jaipur in November 2016, Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje said.
“The prime objective of GRAM is to ensure the self reliance of farmers. This will be possible only when the farmers will increase productivity with the use of modern technology and cultivate crops as per market demand,” the Rajasthan Chief Minister said
while presiding over the inaugural session of the event.
The state government announced that if a farmer will setup a processing unit in his farm the Government will provide 50 percent subsidy on a minimum investment of Rs. 40 Lakhs. She also urged the farmers to earmark an area in their farms solely for organic farming.
Kota region is very wealthy with numerous agricultural bounties. With sufficient water availability and 50 percent of total cultivable land, there is ample avenues for farmers to have a chance at doubling their incomes. Highlighting the initiatives taken by Government to enhance the livelihood of the farmers State Cooperative Minister Ajay Singh explained that interest rates on loans for farmers have been reduced from 12- 14 percent to 7-10 percent. Not only this, progress has also been made to maximize insurance claims for farmers at a low premium.
The mega agro-event was designed with 4 focus areas in mind - warehousing, optimum water utilization, empowerment of women and workforce training. The State government has taken several crop diversification initiatives in areas of date, quinoa, olive, dragon fruit and pomegranate. Kota region showcased opportunities and huge scope for investment in areas of post-harvest processing, agri-tourism, custom hiring centres, among others. The State has made efforts to foster growth in the agricultural sector and has been at the forefront of promoting investments, reviewing policies, bringing transformational reforms and establishing adequate infrastructure.
Experts also highlighted some of the factors for collecting high quality produce. According to them, site selection, farmer training, climate and weather patterns and soil sustainability, play a crucial role. Emeritus Prof and Former Project Coordinator on ICAR Arid Legumes Project, CAZRI, Jodhpur, D Kumar said that there is a serious need to cultivate pulses in higher volumes as they have farming benefits like less water requirement and high temperature resistance. Procurement Head, Soufflet Malt India Pvt. Ltd, Sachin Thorat emphasized on the need barley cultivation, as it is good for the crop cycle, requires less water and gives good return on investment.
Agricultural Abundance of Kota
The inaugural day witnessed a session on ‘Agricultural Abundance of Kota: Strengths and Prospects’. The seminar threw light on how to create wider value chains based on the products of Kota division. Chaired by CEO Sabziwala and Advisor, FICCI, Pravesh Sharma the seminar also underlined the
The prime objective of GRAM is to ensure the self reliance of farmers. This will be possible only when the farmers will increase productivity with the use of technology and cultivate crops as per market demand
need to market the products of the region on a national and international level.
Kota Division has abundant opportunities in the areas of soyabean, coriander, citrus and seed spices. Even though there is immense production in the state for these crops, the fields of production, processing and value addition need more investment and innovation.
Director, India and Asia Subcontinent, US Soybean Export Council, Ratan K Sharma highlighted the business potential of soy food processing in India. He said that soy is the world’s leading food crop to feed both people and livestock as due to its features like low cost and high quality.
Event also fetched investment in soy food processing sector. The State government signed a MoU worth Rs. 112.50 crore with Shiv Health Foods LLP for setting up a project for manufacture of high quality soy proteins.
Chakresh Jain of Bunge India gave a presentation on the potential for growth of mustard rapeseed in Rajasthan. He said that the soil-water combination is well suited for the growth of this crop. However, the farmers are shifting to other crops due to more profitability and productivity. There is need for increase in the yield of mustard which is crucial for India’s food security and farmers’ well being, he added.
Minister of Water Resources, Indira Gandhi Canal Project Command Area Development and Water Utilization, Government of Rajasthan, Ram Pratap said that water in Kota Division is not being utilized optimally. Thus, there is an immense need for to explore various scientific techniques to facilitate water efficiency.
Principal Scientist (Horticulture), Central Citrus Research Institute, Nagpur, AD Huchche said that citrus is third most important crop in India after banana and mango. He suggested several solutions to problems like weed management, insect pest problem, water conservation, management of citrus cankers, causal factors of citrus decline, among others.
Agri tourism is a sustainable multifaceted growth engine which provides economic, social and environment returns. At a session on ‘Promoting Agri Tourism in Kota Region,’ policy makers, experts and agri tourism entrepreneurs discussed the potential of rural tourism in the State especially in Kota Division
“Agri tourism can be done with the most basic elements prevalent in a farmer’s daily life. A harmonious blend of traditional food, comfortable accommodation, entertaining farm activities as well as marketing through the right channels can open up ample avenues for Agri Tourism in the Division,” said Yoonus Khan, Senior Minister, Government of Rajasthan
“Agri tourism is not just for the benefit of the farmers but also essential for the sustainability of the entire village. Farm tours, farm stays, serving traditional food, involving tourists in farm activities can be facilitated for the visitors,” ‘said PandurangTaware, Managing Director, Agri Tourism Development Company Pvt. Ltd
Ram Pratap Minister of Water Resources, Rajasthan Water in Kota Division is not being utilized optimally. Thus, there is an immense need for to explore various scientific techniques to facilitate water efficiency
Vigyan Gadodia, Director, Sahaj Agrofarm India, explained that agri tourism is a set of programmes and activities which allow the host farmers to offer leisure, learning, entertainment and spiritual services to tourists in an economically profitable manner. He emphasized that because Kota region is a water rich vegetable growing belt it is most attractive to this form of tourism. Furthermore, the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project (DMIC) presents a great marketing opportunity for the farmers to attract more tourists to their farms.
Senior officials of the State government showcased the potential in Kota region for animal husbandry and related businesses. The Division has a significant presence in the animal husbandry sector with 6 percent of total livestock of the State and over 500 animal husbandry institutes. These institutes include polyclinics, and first grade veterinary hospitals, among others and accounts for 8 percent of the total establishments of the State.
The Region is also engaged in dairy production. The overall availability of milk in the Division is quite high. However, the organized level of procurement is currently low. This Division has an immensely high demand for milk considering the large student population. Thus, there are ample investment opportunities in an integrated dairy processing operation for value added dairy products like cheese, butter, yogurt, among others.
There is also scope for improving yields of the two indigenous cattle breeds namely, Gir and Malvi which are known for their milk prowess and production of A2 type milk. It is to be noted that there is also sufficient need for improving the breeds of the cattle through techniques like artificial insemination and cross breeding of species.
Further investments was also sought for setting up fertility camps or clinics as well as training centers for dairy farmers. There are also prospects for improvement in cold chain through setting up more collection points as well as establishment of bulk milk coolers.
The exhibition at the 3-day GRAM saw the participation of various public and private sector companies. Spread over a total area of whopping 7,800 square meters, the exhibition was one of the main features of the mega event. It showcased available modern technologies and equipment in agriculture, agro processing and livestock sector suitable to domestic requirements. The exhibition provided an opportunity for early to mid-stage agritech companies and agri-startups to showcase their innovations to domestic and global agribusiness audience, farmers, technology integrators and investors.
Exhibitions stalls were set up on various categories like farm machinery and allied services, agriinputs and protected cultivation as well as irrigation, plasticulture and precision farming.
One of the major highlights of the exposition was the Innovation and Startup Pavilion which served as a platform for presenting indigenous products developed by Rajasthan’s farmers and agrientrepreneurs.
The farmers were very keen in learning various techniques like high production through Green House and Shade Net House, unseasonable farming through Poly House, water conservation techniques under Mukhyamantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan.
The event concluded with a very promising note. Malaysia was the partner country for the event. Malaysian High Commissioner in India, Hidayat Bin Abdul Hamid stressed on the need for the new generations to be focused on agriculture sector for a holistic development. He hoped for the participation of Malaysia in the fast-economic progress of Rajasthan and identify key areas for investment in the State. The State would organise two more GRAM in 2017 to cover all the farmers of Rajasthan.
Yoonus Khan Senior Minister, Rajasthan A harmonious blend of traditional food, comfortable accommodation, entertaining farm activities as well as marketing through the right channels can open up ample avenues for Agri Tourism
L-R Rajasthan Agriculture Minister Prabhu Lal Saini, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu & Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje