Improving the Lives of Marginalized Farmers Through Technology

The AP Agtech Summit 2017, organized in partnership with Dalberg and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, brought some of the best minds from across the world to brainstorm solutions to challenges faced by marginalized farmers in Andhra Pradesh. With Shri. N Chandrababu Naidu, the Honorable Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, and Bill Gates at the helm of the summit, Visakhapatnam acted as a melting pot for investors, researchers, policy-makers, innovators, students, and farmers.

Unique to the Summit was also a one-of-a-kind pitch competition on technology-enabled solutions to improve the livelihoods of small and marginal farmers. The competition garnered more than 250 applications from AgTech entrepreneurs from over 60 countries, making this one of the largest smallholder farmer-focused platforms in the world. Solutions ranged from digital market linkage platforms to big data analytics solutions, fitting into themes of technology-enabled rural advisory services (RAS) v2.0, technology-enabled market linkages, digital financial services for agriculture, and data mining for agriculture. From a pool of fiercely competitive and innovative applications, 10 finalists pitched their ideas to an 8-member grand jury. The grand jury then closely evaluated the pitches, selecting the five innovators who would go on to partner with the Government of Andhra Pradesh.

The Government of Andhra Pradesh signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with the winning five innovators, giving them a platform to first pilot, and then scale their solutions across the state. By the end of 2018 these start-ups are slated to touch the lives of nearly half a million farmers in Andhra Pradesh, delivering solutions that link them to farm inputs on an online delivery platform (BigHaat), boost their post-production capabilities (Krishi Star), and link them to output markets (Kisan Network). The other winners (SatSure Analytics and Infinium Solutionz) have already begun to develop the ecosystem for agriculture innovation by running big data analytics on satellite intelligence.

The success of this event was made possible by the meeting of a multidisciplinary team of strategists, industry experts, and administrators from the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dalberg Advisors, and Confederation of Indian Industry between September and December 2017. Once the team decided to host a global event to catalyze innovation, investment, and ideas, Dalberg Advisors was tasked with identifying problem statements relevant to farmers in Andhra Pradesh, programming the summit, and curating the pitch competition. The Dalberg team took a two-pronged approach and analyzed the demand for solutions through face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions with smallholder farmers, extension officers, input dealers, and other players in the value chain. This was then matched with the supply-side by interviewing start-ups and investors in the AgTech ecosystem in India, giving rise to the four themes of the summit.

N Chandrababu Naidu with Dalberg team

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