Become part of the startup ecosystem: Prof. Chandel

The National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management-Center for Innovation and Agripreneurship (MANAGE-CIA), Hyderabad in partnership with Dr. Yashwant Singh Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni recently organized an event titled ‘Agri-StartUp Stakeholders Connect–Fostering Collaboration and Partnerships’ at the university. The event saw the active participation of 26 startups and agricultural stakeholders from Himachal Pradesh, along with over 200 students and faculty of the university.

Dr. Inder Dev, Director of Extension Education, welcomed the participants and informed them that the event aimed to unite various stakeholders, including researchers, incubators, policymakers, agripreneurs, start-ups, agro-industries, investors, extension functionaries, students, and other partners from the state. It served as a platform for presenting and exchanging innovations, views, expertise, and experiences in the fields of agribusiness and agripreneurship to collectively contribute to the growth of the startup landscape.

Vice Chancellor and Chief Guest of the event Prof Rajeshwar Singh Chandel highlighted the global interest in activities beyond the farm gate. He encouraged agriculture, horticulture, and forestry graduates to explore start-up opportunities to become job providers. Prof. Chandel acknowledged the evolving support system for startups, emphasizing the importance of utilizing the favourable start-up environment to transform novel ideas into profitable ventures. He said that the university will look to invite agri startups from different regions of the state as special guests to research and scientific advisory committee meetings to foster collaboration between startups and the university’s research stations and Krishi Vigyan Kendras. He also suggested utilizing doctoral scholars to validate the work done by the startups and generate scientific data.

Stressing the nutrition aspect of various mushrooms, Dr. VP Sharma, Director at the Directorate of Mushroom Research, Chambaghat asked students to look towards mushrooms for starting their enterprises. Dr Arun Chandan, Director of the National Medicinal Plants Board was of the view that the Himalayan region offered vast opportunities for establishing start-ups using different herbs and plants. He said that COVID has given a huge boost to the demand for Ayurvedic and herbal products and large-scale production of quality planting material of medicinal plants to meet the industry needs must also be explored by the students and the university. Dr. Saravanan Raj, Director, Agricultural Extension MANAGE, informed that the start-up ecosystem in the country has been on the up but only around 5600 agri start-ups are present in the country. He said the horticulture and forestry disciplines offer a vast scope to budding entrepreneurs as these sectors have been largely unexplored. Dr. Raj said that agri startups are seen as development partners as they will aid in providing solutions along with cost-effective services. He called for more such development partners so that these can be connected to the stakeholders.

The event featured an exhibition where 26 startups, including 22 from Himachal, shared stories and showcased their products. The diverse range of perspectives and insights from participants emphasized the significance of collaborative efforts in strengthening the startup ecosystem. The statutory offices and the HODs from the university, representatives from the Agriculture Department and SAMETI participated in the event.

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