KisanMitr – ‘Friends of the Farmers’, is an initiative of the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India. This project aims to make Indian farmers more self-reliant by giving them insights and recommendations based on information from various data sources from different departments of the Government.
The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the GoI has taken the lead to address challenges in the agriculture sector by creating a digital platform - KisanMitr, which will bring together all the key and important stakeholders from diverse fields (Central and State Government departments dealing with agriculture, Govt. R&D Institutions, Indian Academia, Industry, Startups and Incubators, Non-profit organizations, FPOs and other entities) to help the farmers of India. The KisanMitr platform intends to tap the energies of the startup ecosystem in India to solve and address some of the key social development challenges in the agricultural sector. This platform aims to facilitate the discovery of key challenges in agriculture which startups can attempt to solve, and will facilitate the trials and adoption of the solutions provided by startups to the farmers.
The initiative to support the Indian Farmers has been aptly named 'KisanMitr', which translates to 'Friends of Farmers' in English, due to the voluntary involvement of many stakeholders from diverse fields of expertise contributing to this unique endeavor. Non-profit bodies such as NASSCOM Foundation, National Institute of Agriculture Marketing under Ministry of Agriculture, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM, Bangalore) provided support by outreach and organizing presentations of the innovators/technologists. Indian Farmers Fertilizers Cooperative (IFFCO) funded Television episodes for these technologies of Doordarshan, an Indian National Television channel under a program known as ‘DD Kisan'.
Objective of the movement, Friends of the Farmers
To provide solutions keeping in mind inclusivity (agriculture is becoming feminine and has a huge percentage of small farm holding) and to focus on the farmer’s balance sheet, making her self-reliant and last but not the least encouraging youth/startups by sustaining their operations and scaling up.
To provide broad directions to the competent team of developers, creative thinkers, and project management team to develop and harness the contributions from multiple stakeholders, including the digital scope of work, the architecture of the platform, an advisory committee comprising of eminent subject matter experts was formed by the Office of PSA, GoI. The advisory committee consists of a farming expert, an ex-Indian Centre for Agriculture Research Executive, Chief Technologist Officer (retired from WIPRO), and a faculty from Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode (co-author of this paper) who would steer the project and bring out the respective rich network to collaborate on the project.
Methodology, of converting the movement of friends of the farmers into action was through seven primary phases that are envisaged
Technologies Information Exchange
To develop a National Repository of Scientific Research, Technologies, ICT, and AI-based user-friendly platforms keeping Industry, Incubators, Venture Capitalists and Government as enablers and connecting to the farmers as end-users.
All-inclusive of Livestock breeding, products, and technologies. It will include e-commerce, knowledge management, and dashboards.
All ICAR and CSIR scientific research output and challenges are part of this section so that it is segregated and clear for everyone to engage more sharply.
A competent team of agriculturists, e-commerce chains, through a group of Chevening alumni, have come together to discuss a model of using their respective local collection centers to collect information of micro farmers with high nutrition cultivation produce in the Mountain States and remote areas. Once it was made available and hosted on the Indian CST platform the demand side, i.e., Akshaya Patra, Rotary mid-day meals, Child SHGs, Ministry of child and women welfare Anganwadi procurement teams can purchase using the payment gateway of pay.gov.
Self-Reliant Farmer – Atmanirbhar app for farmers
The data required for the farmers need to be determined with the help of NABARD. The same has to be sourced from different national and international databases. An application needs to be developed using Artificial Intelligence to source the data, mine the data, analyze the data, convert it into vernacular language and provide it as inputs to the end-user, i.e., farmer. Further modeling of few decisions based on permutation and combination of the data should also be provided to the farmers for them to determine the cropping pattern and to take necessary decisions on farming practices. This modeling needs to be undertaken through consultative processes with agriculture experts of NABARD and its FPOs.
Agri-Fin Tech phase
This phase will provide details of Agri-Fin tech that will be useful to both Farmers managing their accounting and financial statements, helping them understand in simple terms their ledger and books of accounts and how to keep the records as well as technologies that will help any network of Non-Banking Finance Corporations (NBFCs) to monitor FPO financial progress. Startups have several financial technology products that can be showcased here
Off-Farm Platform – Creative Handloom/Textiles
This would be a separate platform on off-farm. Tech Mahindra is developing the platform as a CSR activity. Technologies related to Textile and Creative Manufacturing - including leather, carpets, gems, and jewellery will be brought into the repository. Technologies would be largely from RUTAG of PSA’s office, Access Livelihood – Hyderabad, Access Group – Delhi, Development Alternatives, UNDP, ECO Tussar, Pradaan, Resham Sutra on the supply side and the demand side those that would be onboarded are Aditya Birla Group - Rajasthan Spinning.
- Knowledge Management (KM),
- e-Commerce (through E-NAAM),
- Rating System,
- Agriculture technologies,
- Livestock technologies, and
- Scientific research Feedback and
- Dashboards/MIS for each of the phases (wherever applicable).
- International Engagement will include start-ups collaboration through GITA (CII’s portal) as well as all enquiries to replicate the platform internationally.
Digital platforms and apps developed were to be for the citizens and without any costs to the farmers. The platform had to be unique and could not duplicate existing digital platforms (including apps) hence a comparative study of the digital platforms of Agriculture Ministries, Ministry of Rural Development, and NABARD was undertaken. The Digital platform was the primary phase of the movement, however, engagement of demand and supply technologists for all the phases was also to be undertaken. Overall, for the start-up ecosystem, structured inputs were to be provided for which again partners joined in pro bono and took sessions on commercialisation, Patent filing, IPR, Structured innovations, etc.
The KisanMitr digital platform and the mobile application to be developed (named Atma Nirbhar Krishik or self-reliant farmer) is planned to be provided to the citizens without any costs. Further, the platform is intended to be unique such that it does not duplicate information from existing digital platforms including mobile apps. A comparative study of the digital platforms of Agriculture Ministries, Ministry of Rural Development, and NABARD was undertaken to ensure no duplication. During the initial stages of the creation of this platform, many partners voluntarily contributed on a pro bono basis in structuring the inputs to the start-ups involved in this initiative - by providing them inputs on the commercialization of offerings, patent filing, IPR, and methods of undertaking structured innovations among others.
The Office of PSA has engaged the services of Indian Centre for Social Transformation (Indian CST) (www.indiancst.in), a Registered Public Trust who developed and are maintaining https://epashuhaat.gov.in for the Ministry of Animal Husbandry Dairying and Fisheries for the (then) Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare since 26.11.2016. Indian CST has contributed its GPMS Transportal for building the KisanMitr portal on the lines of e-pashuhaat. This National Digital Repository called the Friends of the Farmer portal (https://kisanmitr.gov.in) is hosted as per Government of India cloud policy at Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Fourth Paradigm Institute (CSIR4PI), Bangalore.
NASSCOM Foundation is also focusing on Agritech in India and providing emerging trends which underlines transformation and trends in the Indian Agritech Industry. Be a part of webinars and watch videos which covers emerging areas in Agritech with focus on key stakeholders and newer opportunities to grow in the agri space during these challenging times in India.
IIMB-NSRCEL provides a platform for successful and budding entrepreneurs running profit and non-profit ventures. Watch a series of webinars supported by NSRCEL IIMB.
Watch DD Kisan’s coverage of KISANMITR
DD Kisan TV channel has helped in various technological demonstrations in India. The episodes will be aired in different geographical locations across India in regional languages.
National Institute of Agricultural Marketing (NIAM)
National Institute of Agricultural Marketing (NIAM) is engaged in organizing training programmes in the field of agricultural marketing and allied areas for senior and middle level officers from various line departments of State Governments, Cooperatives, Marketing Boards and Agribusiness Entrepreneurs. The institute is also playing an active role in orienting agricultural extension personnel towards agricultural marketing
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