The Government of Maharashtra and World Bank, in a joint endeavour, have launched the ‘SMART Agtech Integration Facility 2022’ to transform rural Maharashtra through Disruptive Agricultural Technologies (DATs). This facility is presently seeking applications from DAT solution providers, with a presence in India, to bring in digital and technical innovations in the agriculture sector. The facility will enable selected DAT solution providers to work directly with the Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in Maharashtra to implement transformative solutions.
The facility is a part of US$ 300 million Hon. Balasaheb Thackeray Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (SMART) project, which aims to enable collectives of smallholder farmers to participate in competitive agriculture value chains, facilitate agri-business investments, increase market access and productivity, and build resilience of crops to recurrent floods or droughts in the state. A key sub-component under the project is to facilitate adoption of DATs among CBOs in the state. The SMART Agtech Integration Facility 2022 will identify relevant DAT solution providers and facilitate interactions between the technology providers and CBOs to enable customization and adoption of appropriate solutions.
Speaking about the launch, the Agriculture Commissioner, Mr. Dheeraj Kumar, Govt of Maharashtra said, “We are excited to launch this facility and to have DAT solution providers from across India to work with the Government of Maharashtra (SMART) to build a resilient and robust agriculture technology ecosystem in the state. This is a unique collaborative concept which will connect DAT solution providers with Community Based Organization (CBOs) and provide them with the most relevant solutions to address their critical technological needs”.
The SMART Agtech Integration Facility 2022 is supported by a grant from the Korea World Bank Partnership Facility (KWPF), a collaboration between Korea’s Ministry of Economy and Finance (MoEF) and the World Bank. The grant marks the first KWPF initiative in India. Intellecap, a pioneer in enabling ecosystems and channeling capital to nurture a sustainable and equitable society, is supporting the execution of the grant.
Manivannan Pathy and Adarsh Kumar, Team Leaders of the SMART project from the World Bank said, “The SMART Agtech Integration Facility addresses a critical challenge of harnessing the innovation and dynamism happening in the DAT space to improved outcomes for farmers in Maharashtra through supporting partnerships between farmers and selected DATs. This facility has the potential to demonstrate innovative solutions that can be scale up nationally.”
Smallholder farmers in Maharashtra face myriad challenges across the value chain. Though CBOs such as Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) and Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) play a significant role in helping farmers get access to finance, inputs, farm technologies, and agricultural market, technological limitations affect their ability to achieve their potential to increase productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness of farming operations.
According to Santosh Kumar Singh, Managing Director, Intellecap, “The SMART Agtech Integration Facility is a novel way for DATs to solve a real-time problem, the underlying impact of which is significant. We are excited to work with the Govt. of Maharashtra and the World Bank in finding solution providers who will be joining us in this journey to help discover and transform rural Maharashtra through their innovative ideas, which in turn will enable CBOs and farmers, address a few critical challenges across the value chain and improve agricultural productivity across the state”.
The SMART AgTech Integration Facility is seeking support from DAT solution providers specifically for (1) implementing digitization solutions for farmer collectives, (2) building value chain actor aggregation platforms, (3) enabling precision agriculture and automation services, (4) working with urban food systems and logistics solutions, (5) developing market linkage and traceability solutions, and (6) facilitating access to financial services.