Hyderabad, Aug 27 (PTI) The indispensability of the agriculture sector in the country has been brought to focus by the COVID-19 pandemic and it remained the silver lining for 2020-21, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Chairman Govinda Rajulu Chintala said on Thursday. Talking about the adverse impact of COVID-19 on the world and the countrys economies, he said one of the prescriptions for lifting the economy out of a slowdown was to put in place a strategy that leverages its latent strength. And agriculture sector is the silver lining for 2020-21 and the pandemic has brought the indispensability of the sector back to focus, he said in his address at the fourth convocation of Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU) here.
"I would add that the comfortable food stock built over the ast several decades through the toil of the entire agricultural community, with farmers at the forefront, is something that has made us more resilient in the context of this pandemic," he said. Chintala said the NABARD has set up and supported upscaling of five Agri Business Incubation Centres (ABICs) at various agriculture universities across the country to promote and nurture agripreneurs and start-ups. These ABICS will facilitate the start-ups with necessary resources and business support services, marketing arrangements as well as finance to transform them into viable commercial entities, he said. After the initial funding has dried up, the start-ups enter a stage called Death Valley, where there was high probability that they might wind up due to lack of steady revenue and scarce additional funding, leaving the start-ups vulnerable to cash flow requirements, the NABARD chief said. To support the agri start-ups entering the Death Valley phase, NABARD has set up a Catalytic Capital Fund'' of Rs 100 crore, Chintala said.
The bank has also set up NABVENTURESwith a Rs 500 crore fund, a wholly owned subsidiary, which through venture growth equity funds invests in early to mid-stage start-ups in agriculture, food-based businesses and rural financial services to boost the investment ecosystem in the core areas of agriculture, food and rural livelihoods, he said. He also said agripreneurship combines agriculture and entrepreneurship to tackle a number of challenges faced across the agricultural value chain by disrupting the agriculture system with innovative ideas and affordable solutions.
These agri start-ups have become the missing link between the farmers, input dealers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers connecting each of them to each other and providing strong marketing linkages and quality produce on time, he said. However, agripreneurs often face a disadvantage, because of the lack of resources and other reasons, he said. He wanted the gathering to think over and act on pertinent questions, including whether young agri graduates can find a profitable future in agripreneurship and can small-holder farmers become entrepreneurs. The Central as well as state governments have implemented multiple policies to support agri start-ups, their early take off and successful operations, Chintala said. Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, who is the Chancellor of the university and its Vice-Chancellor V Praveen Rao were among those present. PTI SJR VS VS