Agriculture Minister urged delegates of the Agri Summit to set up Food Processing Units

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A Hyderabad based top-notch agri consulting company; RAY Consulting organised an Agri-Business Summit at Park Hyatt Hyderabad on Thursday. 

Raghunandan Rao, APC & Secretary to Govt. Agri & Coop Dept, Govt of Telangana; Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Govt of Telangana; Dr V Praveen Rao, VC Prof Jayashankar Telangana State Agriculture University (PJTSAU) among other dignitaries graced the inaugural function as guests. 

Singireddy Niranjan Reddy, Minister of Agriculture, Marketing, Civil Supplies, Govt of Telangana who was supposed to attend could not make it to the program as he was with CM in Delhi. So he sent a message. In his message, he said farmers need innovative products, methods. Together we all play a crucial role in this journey to enable innovations in the Agri Sector. Research and Extension plays a central role in Innovation he said

Speaking further the Minister added that building an agricultural ecosystem is very important to the overall ecosystem. We in Telangana are witnessing a Golden Age in Agriculture. Farm innovations, Smart Poultry, Smart Agriculture, seamless growth in land farming he said. 

The need of the hour is to produce more with less natural resources. Netherlands, Spain, Israel like many tiny countries have demonstrated how they could excel in Agriculture. The top priority for Telangana Government is Agriculture, said the Minister. 

The government is giving special importance to setting up food processing zones. He urged the companies to come forward and set up Food Processing units in the state.  

Raghunandan Rao, APC & Secretary to Govt. Agri & Coop Dept, Govt of Telangana said for the government in the last 7 years Agriculture remained the focus of its activity. Telangana is the only state to provide 24 hours power supply to all the sectors. Perhaps it is the first state to provide investment and input assistance to every farmer twice a year at the beginning of the crop season. 

Rs 40,000 crore assistance was extended under this scheme so far. It is the only state which has fully functional farmers’ insurance. As a result of these efforts, there is a growth of 40% cultivated area in the last 7 years. Huge investments have gone into irrigation. Farm Mechanisation has also gone up which is evident from the fact that agri tractors have gone up by 125%.  The Warehousing capacities have also gone up. Telangana is probably the only state to have fully trained agriculture graduates available to every 5000 acres of cultivable land.

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Jayesh Ranjan highlighted the various efforts put in by the government to promote agri-food processing centres in the state and urged Agri entrepreneurs to utilise the opportunity thrown open by the government. 

 Welcoming the gathering speaking on the occasion Mr Raj Kumar Agarwal, Founder & Managing Partner of Ray Consulting informed that Who is who of the Agri sector have participated in the one full day, annual calendar event “Agri-Business Summit and Agri Awards ABSA 2021”. 

A high-profile Panel discussion on “Agriculture was the silver lining in Covid times, how we convert to golden opportunity” was moderated by Mr S Siva Kumar Group Head Agri and IT Businesses – ITC Chairman Technico Agri Sciences Limited, Vice Chairman ITC Infotech India. The panellists were Ms Joanna Kane Potaka, ICRISAT; Dr Kalpana Sastry, MD AgriHub Foundation-PJTSAU; Dr P. Chandra Shekara, Director General, MANAGE; Mr. Ram Kaundinya, Co-Founder, ThinkAg

Setting the tone for the panel discussion moderator, Mr S Siva Kumar Group Head Agri and IT Businesses – ITC Chairman Technico Agri Sciences Limited, Vice Chairman ITC Infotech India said during the pandemic, the GDP of Indian Industry shrank more than 7%, service industry shrank 8%. On the whole, the GDP shrank 7% thanks to the Agri sector which grew by 3% as all Lockdowns exempted Agriculture. This has provided a Silverline. Unlocking Agriculture worked well for us. Governments also reformed agri laws. More investments poured in, more innovations, digital technologies all put together contributed immensely to the growth of the Agri sector despite other sectors shrinking. 

He said the per capita earnings of the farmers are one fourth compared to other professions. While growing more agri products, we have been rapidly consuming our natural resources. As of 2nd September, we are overshooting the consumption. We have already consumed natural resources that we are supposed to be consuming by December 31, 2021. Climate change is playing havoc on agriculture which is creating production risk.  

Dr P. Chandra Shekara, Director General, MANAGE shared that the scope of extension must be broadened. 

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Mr Ram Kaundinya, Co-Founder, ThinkAg said that we must look at consumer-driven agriculture, export-oriented agriculture, look at increasing yields while conserving natural resources, use modern technologies and reducing chemical usage. 

Ms Joanna Kane Potaka, ICRISAT emphasised that we need level Playing policies. We need nutrition centric agriculture. She suggested bringing back millers into mainstream food. Study shows that millets can reduce cardiovascular diseases, she said. 

Dr Kalpana Sastry, MD AgriHub Foundation-PJTSAU opined that to cultivate innovations in the Agri sector we must involve gross root level innovators. 

All in all, everybody said we must do things holistically. 

The Summit had a special focus on women in the Agri Sector shared by Mr Raj Kumar. 70% of students of Indian Agri Universities are girls now. The Agri sector is emerging as the most attractive now to women too, he added.

ABSA Life Time Awards for the years 2020 and 2021 were presented during the summit. Dr U.S Awasthi, MD of IFFCO and Dr Deepak Shah, CMD of Sulphur Mills were honoured with ABSA Lifetime Achievement Awards. These awards are considered as the Indian Nobel Awards in Agri Sector.

 Dr U.S Awasthi is the MD of IFFCO, the world’s largest fertilizers cooperative. Dr Deepak Shah is the CMD of Sulphur Mills who is known as the Sulphur Man of India. Both these Agri Professionals were bestowed with “ABSA Lifetime Achievement Awards for the years 2020 and 2021”.  

Both are the tallest corporate leaders and messiahs of rural farmers who have put in 50 plus years of yeoman service to the Agriculture Industry. 

The Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients Dr U S Awasthi, Managing Director IFFCO later delivered a talk on “How Co-operatives can build a strong and sustainable agribusiness model” and Dr Deepak Shah, Chairman Sulphur Mills Ltd. on “Future Trends – Innovation in Agriculture for building Atma Nirbhar Bharat” at the Summit. 

Addressing the gathering Dr Awasti said, I am often asked why I chose cooperatives? I answer… because Cooperatives are the real models of growth of any nation. 

IFFCO Group contributed significantly to the GDP of the country with a turnover of over 7 billion dollars. 

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Our plants are one of the best in the world. We have reduced our average energy consumption by 1/3rd and water consumption by 3/5th since the inception of our plants, Dr Awasti explained. 

We reach out to 2.5 million farmers each year, he added. 

I feel pride in sharing with you that every 4th bag of fertiliser sold in India belongs to IFFCO. During 2022-21 we marketed 137 lakh MT of fertilisers in the country he shared. 

We have planted 100 lakh neem trees across India over the last 5 years not only for environmental sustenance but also for rural income generation through a collection of neem seeds, he said.

Dr Deepak Shah, CMD of Sulphur Mills who spoke on Innovation in Agriculture said we on our part instead of innovating a new molecule, took a different path and worked on reducing dosages of all our 17 products. He said we must have a culture of innovation and out of the box thinking ingrained. And he suggested that everybody should do innovation. And innovation must reach out to every farmer in the country. 

One of the jury members Mr Ram Kaundinya Founder – ThinkAg (platform for Agri and Food innovation), Ex MD Cyanamide, Advanta Seeds, said there were awards in every category. More cine stars are given away awards. But there are no Awards for Agri Professionals in AgriScience and Agri Input Industry. Not many Padma Awards are given to the Agri Sector. The Agri industry is undergoing a huge transformation. 

Kuber, India’s first peer-to-peer e-commerce platform for the agriculture sector was launched. 

Bayer made ‘Bayer for Bharat’- Glorious 125 years in India’ presentation. 

Over 200 Senior Corporate Executives, Industry Captains from over 150 companies participated in the Summit. Among the attendees include high profile, decision-makers and influencers from the Agri Inputs industry (Agro Chemicals, Nutrition, Bio Ag, Seeds, irrigation, farm mechanization, Precision Ag), researchers, management education, Government, Finance, Universities, Social inclusion etc. Speakers, bankers, policymakers, venture capitalists, start-ups and trendsetters from Agri Industry will all be here

The Summit looked into multiple perspectives. It is coming out with a meaningful action plan for the nation, Mr Shivkumar, who moderated the panel discussion shared.