Innovation Hub (iHub), a creative space where agricultural technology entrepreneurs, scientists and technology experts can collaborate to innovate cutting edge ideas across the agriculture value chain for smallholder farmers, was inaugurated at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad.
Highlighting the need of iHub, Telangana Agriculture Minister PS Reddy said on the occasion, “This is a very important opening for the welfare of farmers. We have to enhance the farmers’ incomes. The 70% of people in India are in agriculture. I want to see farmers able to reduce their investments and increase productivity so they do not have to go for loans every year.”
The IT Minister of the State, KT Rama Rao talked, on the occasion, about how technology and science can help farmers. “I think the convergence of technology with the distressed sectors like agriculture, is the key to empower farmers and to improve productivity. Science cannot be for the sake of science and unless it changes things on the ground for the common person we cannot say that we have been able to make a social and economic impact.”
To enhance and strengthen the strategic vision for iHub, an advisory council has been set up including; Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary for IT in Telangana; Anil Bhansali, Managing Director of Microsoft, India; Rama Iyer, senior Vice President of T-Hub; Dr Praveen Rao, Vice Chancellor of Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University; Parthasarathi, Principal Secretary, Agriculture in Telangana; David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT and convener Ram Dhulipala, Lead, Digital agriculture and youth at ICRISAT.
“Entrepreneurs with passion are the ideal individuals to tackle problems using innovation and drive conversations at the intersection of agriculture, finance and IT. Promoting such intense collaborations between entrepreneurs and ICRISAT scientists is at the heart of the idea of iHub. We have already launched an international Agricultural Innovations Program with T-Hub and many AgriTech start-ups have shown interest in collaborating with us,” said Dr Bergvinson.
Agriculture in India is a US$ 370 billion sector, but there is little application of technology to improve productivity and lift millions out of poverty. Farmers face a multitude of problems like water shortage, declining soil fertility, effects of climate change and rapid decrease of fertile agricultural lands. Innovation is imperative if agriculture has to feed a rapidly growing population with fewer resources.
Spreading over 10,000 sq. ft., located at ICRISAT, iHub would include a 40-seater accelerator facility.