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10   AgriTech indiA  May 2017                                                                                                         News



                                                                                                harvested 91 lakh tonnes according to   normal SW monsoon in 2017 (June to
                          poliCymakers                                                          official estimates.         September), the harvest will depend
                                                                                                   But  market  prices  have  halved
                                                                                                                            on spatial and temporal distribution
                          are mIsreadInG                                                        to  the  current  level  of  around  Rs.   of rainfall as well as area planted.
                                                                                                                               Meanwhile,
                                                                                                5,500/100 kgin recent weeks.
                                                                                                                                              consumption
                                                                                                                 is
                                                                                                                    whether
                                                                                                        question
                                                                                                   The
                          the pulse                                                             disillusioned pulse-growers will once   demand for pulses will grow with the
                                                                                                                            beginning of the festival season.
                                                                                                                               In  the  next  three-four  months
                                                                                                again plant record acreage.
                          – G Chandrashekhar                                                       There  is  a  possibility  they  may   the pulse market is likely to witness
                                                                                                not. Disgruntled growers will respond   volatility,  driven  by  the  onset  and
               as the Government failed the   an unprecedented 63 lakh tonnes last   policymakers.  the only way they know — not plant   progress  of  the  monsoon,  progress
               country’s pulse-growers this   fiscal, higher than the 59 lakh tonnes   Where  does  the  Indian  pulse   the crop that failed to meet their price   of  planting  not  only  in  India  but  in
          Hyear?  Isn’t  last  year’s  ‘dal   of the previous year.  market go from here? India is at the   expectation.    other  major  origins  too,  currency
          shock’  that  hurt  consumer  interests   In  other  words,  output  and   crossroads.   Next year (2017-18) it is possible   fluctuations  as  well  as  government
          still  fresh  in  people’s  memory?  Did   import both hitting a new high is the   In  some  regions,  pulse  growers   we  may  go  back  to  the  explosive   policy.
          the  avoidable  pulse  crisis  provide   defining feature of the pulse market   are  utterly  disillusioned  because   2015-16  situation  of  lower  crops   So,  the  big  question  is  whether
          any  lessons  to  policymakers?  These   performance this year. The impressive   despite harvesting record crops they   and  heightened  dependence  on  the   India’s record production and record
          questions  deserve  to  be  debated.   growth  in  production  was  aided  by   have  not  received  the  remunerative   international market.  import will be the new normal or will
          Consider the following facts.  reasonably  well-distributed  rainfall,   prices they expected.  Also, policymakers seem have no   the new-found aggression fizzle out.
            To be sure, 2015-16 was a year of   enthusiasm of growers in the wake of   In  Maharashtra  and  Karnataka,   strategic  action  plan  to  ensure  that   The writer is a global agribusiness and
          weather-reduced  output,  widened   high prices during the planting season   principal growers of pigeon pea, the   the  record  production  of  2016-17  is   commodities specialist. Views are personal
          supply  shortfall,  tight  availability,   and  consumers’  ravenous  appetite   harvested  produce  has  been  selling   sustained  in  the  upcoming  season.
          high consumer prices and heightened   for consumption given the price and   10-15  per  cent  below  the  minimum   Far  from  helping  retain  farmers’
          import needs.               income elasticity of demand for this   support  price  (Rs.  5,050  per  100  kg)   enthusiasm, government’s superficial   IIIT-
            The Government was completely   essential food ingredient.  assured  by  the  Government.  The   approach may have killed it.
          on the defensive, clueless about how   Higher   agricultural   growth   pulse procurement programme of the   In  a  year  of  bumper  harvest,   Hyderabad
          to handle the crisis.       generates higher rural incomes which   Government that envisaged purchase   record  import  and  price  collapse,
            Cut to 2016-17: the world’s largest   in  turn  encourages  consumption   of  20  lakh  tonnes  has  had  limited   continuing  storage  restrictions  and
                                                                                                prohibition  on  export  (except  for
          producer,  importer  and  consumer   of  various  food  products  including   impact  on  supporting  domestic   kabuli  chickpea)  clearly  go  against  sets up seed
          of  pulses,  India,  has  set  another   pulses.  The  experience  of  2016-  prices, especially of pigeon pea.
                                                                                                   The weather is sure to continue to  fund network
          record  by  harvesting  a  humongous   17  demonstrates  not  only  the   Similarly,  in  the  rabi  season,   growers’ interests.
          221  lakh  tonnes,  a  quantum  jump   huge  unmet  appetite  for  food   unprecedented prices of chana at the
          from  the  previous  year’s  163  lakh   consumption  in  India,  but  also  the   time  of  planting  prompted  growers   play a critical role.  to invest in
          tonnes; at the same time it imported   stark underestimation of demand by   to  expand  the  planted  area;  they   While  the  forecast  is  for  a
                                                                                                                            tech start-ups












                                                                                                                              IIT-Hyderabad has announced the
                                                                                                                            Icreation  of  a  seed  fund  network
                                                                                                                            to  invest  in  tech  startups  in  the
                                                                                                                            IIIT-Hyderabad   incubator   and
                                                                                                                            elsewhere.  The  fund  will  be  from
                                                                                                                            a  network  of  investors  comprising
                                                                                                                            tech  professionals  and  successful
                                                                                                                            entrepreneurs.
                                                                                                                               It  will  invest  in  early  stage  tech
                                                                                                                            startups involved in technologies like
                                                                                                                            machine  learning,  computer  vision,
                                                                                                                            robotics,  AR/VR,  natural  language
                                                                                                                            processing and other sub-domains of
                                                                                                                            artificial intelligence among others.
                                                                                                                               The  seed  fund  is  being  started
                                                                                                                            in  conjunction  with  five  leading
                                                                                                                            investors  who  will  help  structure
                                                                                                                            and  govern  the  fund.  These  include
                                                                                                                            Viiveck  Verma,  Vikrant  Varshney,
                                                                                                                            Ajay  Jain,  AnuragGarg  and  VVSN
                                                                                                                            Raju.
                                                                                                                               “As  mentors  and  key  players
                                                                                                                            in  the  startup  ecosystem,  we  found
                                                                                                                            that the lack of resources, mentoring,
                                                                                                                            market reach and early stage funding
                                                                                                                            seriously  impedes  and  limits  many
                                                                                                                            startup  founders  with  great  ideas.
                                                                                                                            As a group, we want to address this
                                                                                                                            through  the  mentor  intensive  fund
                                                                                                                            we  are  launching  along  with  IIIT
                                                                                                                            Foundation” said Viiveck Verma, Co
                                                                                                                            Founder DiSRUPPt Thinking.
                                                                                                                               The  primary  source  of  startups
                                                                                                                            will  be  the  various  accelerator
                                                                                                                            programs  run  by  CIE@IIITH,  and
                                                                                                                            domain specific startups and seeding
                                                                                                                            initiatives  that  will  be  taken  up  by
                                                                                                                            CIE@IITH.   Additionally,   regular
                                                                                                                            investment  pitch  days  will  be
                                                                                                                            organised  to  scout  for  interesting
                                                                                                                            early stage tech startups.
                                                                                                                               The  seedfund  will  comprise
                                                                                                                            professionals   and   entrepreneurs
                                                                                                                            who  will  mentor  the  investee
                                                                                                                            startups.  The  venture  capitalists
                                                                                                                            who are senior industry leaders with
                                                                                                                            extensive  domain  knowledge  and
                                                                                                                            peer networks will assist in creating
                                                                                                                            a  structure  to  support  start-ups  and
                                                                                                                            further  enhance  IIIT-H’s  startup
                                                                                                                            ecosystem.
                                                                                                                               This  guidance  and  investment
                                                                                                                            mentoring  model  is  expected  to
                                                                                                                            help  startups  leverage  the  expertise
                                                                                                                            of  individual  investors  who  will  be
                                                                                                                            joining  this  initiative  and  sharing
                                                                                                                            their expertise in Sales & Marketing,
                                                                                                                            Finance,  Systems  and  Technology,
                                                                                                                            Risk,  legal  &  Compliance,  Tax  &
                                                                                                                            Legal, Human Resources & Training.
                                                                                                                               Commenting  on  this  initiative,
                                                                                                                            Prof  Ramesh  Loganathan,  Head  of
                                                                                                                            Research/Innovation Outreach, said,
                                                                                                                            “We  are  proud  to  be  recipients  of
                                                                                                                            this  unique  seed  fund  network.  It’s
                                                                                                                            a  great  opportunity  for  early  stage
                                                                                                                            investee tech startups to leverage the
                                                                                                                            mentorship of Hyderabad’s captains
                                                                                                                            of industry”.
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