Finance minister brings cheer to agri-tech sector

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Nirmala Sitharaman presenting Budget 2023. (Photo/ANI)

Nirmala Sitharaman presenting Budget 2023. (Photo/ANI)

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced digital public infrastructure for agriculture and Agriculture Accelerator Fund in her Budget 2023 speech

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the Budget for the 2023-24 financial year in which agri-tech emerged as one of the big focuses of the government.

The minister in her speech said: “Our vision for the Amrit Kaal includes a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy with strong public finances, and a robust financial sector. To achieve this, Jan Bhagidari through Sabka Saath Sabka Prayas is essential.”

About agri-tech, Sitharaman announced that digital public infrastructure will be introduced for agriculture which will be a free and open-source endeavour. Similarly, it was said that an Agriculture Accelerator Fund will be set up to encourage agri startups by young entrepreneurs in rural India.

Additionally, the new initiative Centres of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence is also expected to help with research and development in terms of providing problem solutions to the field of agriculture along with other sectors.

Agri-tech in India

Agnishwar Jayaprakash, Founder and CEO of Garuda Aerospace, believes that the UBI-approved Kisan loan will help the agriculture accelerator fund and encourage agri-tech startups by helping young entrepreneurs in rural areas by distributing various agrochemicals, thus further scaling it.

According to him, Garuda’s seed-dropping drones are already helping the government plant seeds, and rejuvenate the forests. To date, they have planted 75,000 seeds. Jayaprakash believes that these drones will further support the Misti scheme, which was discussed during the Budget session.

He said: “Garuda drones will help government labs develop 5G-enabled applications. Last year’s budget helped Kisan Drone Loans and subsidies and it set up a platform for India to become a Global Drone Hub by 2030.”

According to Jayaprakash, “This transformation will be centred on precision Made in India drones in the agri sector with helping the youth. The agri-tech startups will be funded and with these farmers will be able to get subsidies and ensure affordable precision agri-tech is contributing towards enhancing food crop production and increasing yield which will directly contribute to increasing India’s GDP.”

Benefits for farmers, startups

Ankit Alok Bagaria, Co-Founder of Loopworm, told News18 that the budget would help farmers, established businesses, and startups in the agri-allied agriculture space.

While talking about the Agriculture Accelerator Fund, Dr Aravind Chinchure, CEO of Deshpande Startups, said: “A lot of our startups stand to benefit from this initiative, of which most of them are Agri Startups… The inclusion of Agri benefits in the Union Budget is aligned with our cluster models and agricultural initiatives.”

Jaisimha Rao, Founder & CEO of TartanSense, said: “The budget, for the first time, plans to converge and marry contemporary technologies with farming, to provide cost-effective solutions to the farmer, through initiatives like setting up of the Agriculture Accelerator Fund and research labs. We as an Ag-Tech robotics start-up are thrilled with these steps of the government and commend the government for taking such bold steps.”

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