Women-led agri-tech start-ups win big
Two Maharashtra-based agri-tech start-ups, both led by women, grabbed the top two spots in The/Nudge Institute and Cisco Agri Challenge organised with support from the office of the Principal Scientific Advisor of the Union government.
Of the 844 applicants, S4S Technologies, a food preservation company powered by solar drying technology, emerged winner and was awarded ₹ 1 crore. The company has impacted farmers’ livelihood by helping them increase their income by over 50%.
Runner-up Bioprime Agrisolutions works on offering relief to small-scale farmers worldwide struggling with crop loss, temperature fluctuations, drought, resilient insects and diseases through biomolecules, life-friendly chemistry, smart material and energy use. It won the award of ₹25 lakh.
The Indian-agri tech sector is predicted to grow to $24.1 billion by 2025, according to a 2020 report by EY. In line with this, Cisco and The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation collaborated in 2020 to launch the challenge.
CEO of The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation Sudha Srinivasan elaborated on the challenge and said, “The Cisco Agri Challenge drew talent, technology, capital, and attention to the most pressing land, crop, infrastructure, market fulfillment, and social protection issues of small farmers, spurred by the pandemic.”
The winner, Nidhi Pant, co-founder, S4S Technologies said, “I am accepting the prize on behalf of our women farmers, team, partners and customers. We rise by lifting others – with any of our wins. At the end, our smallholder farmer gains”.
Renuka Diwan, co-founder of Bioprime Agrisolutions, said that it was incredible to have two women entrepreneurs as winners in agritech.
After screening 844 applications and shortlisting 25 startups, the Challenge ran for 18 months of mentorship, grant support, and a jury-aided monitoring and evaluation exercise by the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA). Subsequently, eight semi-finalists were awarded a grant of ₹15 lakh each. The winner and runner-up were felicitated by Manoj Ahuja, Agriculture Secretary, Government of India.