The third round of Sustainable Circular Economic Roundtable - Doing Well by Doing Good, powered by BiofuelCircle was conducted on July 16 2021. The idea behind the latest instalment in the BiofuelCircle roundtable series encompassed technological transformation in the agricultural sector, which is in dire need of an overhaul in terms of processes and modern technology.
Delivering the welcome note, Suhas Baxi, Co-Founder, BiofuelCircle mentioned that the idea behind holding these roundtables was to get the circular economy discussions across industry experts, beyond CSR tables within organizations.
Talking about the scope of agricultural mechanization in the current day and integrated solutions of farm mechanization to address the pre and post harvest losses, Mr. T.R. Kesavan (Chairman, National Agri Committee, FICCI and President, Tractor & Mechanization Association) stated that while India produces around 300 tonnes of agricultural products, the sector lacks the basic mechanizations and it is only "tractorization" as of now, wherein tractors are used for most of part of the agricultural processes by the farmers. He added that one of the key factors of mechanization is to reduce input losses in terms of water, soil etc as well as post-harvest. He went on to state that the country is at an inflection point and can get there in terms of mechanization, way ahead of many other countries.
Speaking about the development of sustainable agriculture in India, Mr. Raju Kapoor, Director of Corporate Affairs at FMC Corporation mentioned that the main areas of concern are health of the soil, scarcity of water and inefficient use of fertilizers and finances. In addition to these, farmers' income and crop pricing are major causes of concern which mostly stems from low productivity. In fact, as an "inefficient producer" with 58 percent population dependent on agriculture, India is more into sustenance agriculture than it is into commercial agriculture. Therefore, improving productivity and consumer-centricity must be our priorities.
Sharing his inputs on post- harvest technologies, Mr. Praveen Gupta, Country Manager- GrainPro mentioned that one of the key issues is the lack of awareness among farmers about the existing technologies and the onus of keeping them informed lies with the creators/ providers of those technologies. Another issue, he added, is the inefficient use of pesticides. The losses incurred during post-harvest transportation are being looked at by GrainPro, in terms of reaching out to and providing better storage facilities in the nearest possible areas. Therefore, the aim should be to educate farmers about the availability of technologies and make ways for them to become affordable in the days to come.
Mr. Kuldeep Solanki, CEO-Incharge, Gujpro Agribusiness Consortium Producer Company Ltd., highlighted the need for efficient value chains across the agricultural sector. He further added that the success of Farmer Producer Organizations or FPOs was previously limited to milk and sugar. But with the renewed policies since 2013 can be seen to be having better results. In fact, the FPOs have often contributed to the upliftment of farmers' conditions in terms of welfare activities across the villages.
Zeroing in on the trends in financing the agricultural value chain, Mr. P.G. Ganesh, Business Consultant at Samunnati Financial Intermediation & Services Pvt. Ltd., said that about 28 percent of the agricultural households continue to depend on non-institutional sources of financing, as per reports from NABARD and the RBI. He stressed that in spite of the constraints in terms of regulations laid down by the government in terms of lending to the farmers and agricultural sector in general, there's a lot of space for micro financing entities to join the value chain.
Summarizing the roundtable, Mr. Suhas Baxi noted that it is essential to look at the consumer needs and demands. In addition, it is equally important to educate, inform and empower the people about the available choices at hand and whether or not they are able to access them.
Mr. Baxi went on to say that the power of collectives like the FPOs must be enhanced through structural operational procedures. This, in turn, can result in an extremely powerful intervention. Another important aspect in terms of uplifting the agricultural sector, he added, is innovation across all areas including use of technologies, finance, etc.