In association with NABARD, IIT Kharagpur is organising the first of its kind Agri-Food Techathon (AFT 2021) to promote youth’s participation in innovation and entrepreneurship in different domains of the agri-food sector.

Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Union Education Minister will inaugurate AFT-21 on January 25, said a press statement issued by IIT Kharagpur.

The Agri-Business Incubation Centre’s foundation will also be laid at the inaugural event, which will carry out the mandate to incubate innovative ideas in agriculture and food technology domain for creating agri-preneures.

Agriculture is the largest employment vertical with a GDP share of 14 per cent. Over the years, India has witnessed a substantial increase in yields, crop diversity due to mechanization and knowledge dissemination programmes. However, the steeping consumption due to population explosion has been a constant challenge demanding rapid progress in the agricultural sector.

“While India is moving at an accelerated pace towards automation and digitisation, there is a crucial need to complement it with automation in the rural livelihood and farm sector and warrant uniform progress. To achieve this goal we are reaching out to the talented youth of this country through the Agri-Food Techathon. This platform will enable them to exhibit and depict their creativity, problem-solving and prototyping-skills in agriculture and food technology thus leading to indigenous product development, employment generation and fulfilment of our promise to Atmanirbhar Bharat,” Prof. V K Tewari, Director, IIT Kharagpur said in the statement.

The event is being organised by the Agricultural & Food Engineering Department, Centre for Rural Development & Innovative Sustainable Technologies and Rajendra Mishra School of Engineering Entrepreneurship in association with NABARD.

National level online fest

The national-level online technical fest spanned over January - March 2021, will have participation from over 750 university and college students, entrepreneurs and rural youths from across the country in the age range of 20-25 years with diverse academic background. Apart from workshops, mentorship and guest talks, AFT-2021 will host a competitive B-plan submission for the participants.

Business and technology experts in areas covering farm mechanisation, AIML, IoT in agriculture, precision farming, greenhouse farming, organic farming, agricultural biotechnology, soil technology and testing, food processing, packaging and storage, food supply chain management.

Renowned professional experts from premier institutions such as IIT Kharagpur, IARI New Delhi, CIAE Bhopal and Founders and CEOs of different successful agri-food tech startups like Sickle Foundation, Sfarms India, Fasal, Nutrigreen, Organic Farming, Cropin, B2V, Keyhti, Khadyam, Crofarm, WAycool, Villa Mart, would be taking part in the sensitisation workshop of AFT-2021.

More than 30 teams with high potential will be selected for formal association with ABIC, IIT Kharagpur. They will be offered assistance in the form of technology and business development mentorship, R&D support, laboratory, workshop, pilot plant access and funding opportunities through potential investors or accelerators.

“At our Centre, we will facilitate the incubated start-ups to develop low-cost technologies and transfer them for sustainable development of rural communities. We shall further conduct hands-on training, workshops, and seminars for capacity building of farmers and unemployed rural youth,” Prof. H N Mishra, Professor-in-Charge of the Agri Business Incubation Centre (ABIC) said.

Through action-oriented research, particular emphasis will be given to promote climate-resilient agriculture in vulnerable districts, agricultural value chains, promote farmers’ collectives, value addition, market-linkage, and risk management; also offering expert advisory services, policy advocacy including building up of human capital in rural areas.