The first-of-its-kind program to support enterprise in the Agri and allied sectors has been launched in Assam. The Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab (AAGL) is initiated by CIIE.CO, an incubator of IIM Ahmedabad in partnership with Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART) under the aegis of Assam Rural Infrastructure and Agricultural Services Society (ARIAS).
CIIE.CO is working closely with Innovative Change Collaborative Services Pvt Ltd (ICCSPL), a development organisation working for sustainable livelihoods in Northeast India to implement the program jointly.
The program was launched on June 30, 2021, at the Auditorium, Assam Agricultural University, Khanapara Campus, Guwahati, in the presence of eminent dignitaries, industry associations, ecosystem players, agripreneurs, and government stakeholders. Vinod Seshan, IAS, state project director, ARIAS Society inaugurated the event and formally launched the program video, website and online application portal. Kailash Karthik N, IAS, chief executive officer, Guwahati Biotech Park addressed the entrepreneurs on availing various facilities at Guwahati Biotech Park about biotech innovations. Hemendra Mathur of Bharat Innovation Fund (BIF) shared with the audience an investor’s perspective, on how the Agri and allied sector is shaping up in India. Shashi Gupta, AVP, CIIE.CO moderated a panel discussion with a few promising agri-entrepreneurs of the state.
Seshan emphasised strict policy formulation, quality control and seed funding for agribusiness ventures. “There is a need to promote scalable Agri enterprises and nurture their organic growth process with government support and technology transfer. These actions will be taken up under the ambit of the Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab. The time is ripe for various ecosystem players, government and private stakeholders academic institutes and promising entrepreneurs to join hands and give a fillip to the growth of agribusinesses of the state,” he said.
Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab (AAGL) aims to support and handhold 100 agri-entrepreneurs within 4 years (25 each year) with not less than 30% representation of women-led enterprises from the state by providing them business and technical mentorship for up-scaling their Agri and allied ventures. A special focus is set on supporting women-led enterprises to make the program equitable and provide gender balanced growth.
Some of the common concerns of the agri-entrepreneurs of the state are access to capital, knowledge networking, linkage to high-value markets etc. Therefore, to address these critical gaps, selected enterprises would be provided technical assistance, access to finance, access to market and mentoring support to scale their existing businesses. The program will take a cluster and sector-based approach to enable the local businesses to form forward market linkages, leverage both external and internal business networks and strengthen value chain players for coming up with the best quality curated new products/services.
Under the Agri and allied sector, the program would focus on enterprises working in the areas like farm inputs, Agri production equipment and services, food processing, agri-based warehousing and logistics, farm to fibre, farm to market connect services, etc.
Agri-enterprises can play a crucial role in transforming the agricultural economy with inclusive, market-driven and surplus-generating entrepreneurship models. This initiative is hopeful of creating local success stories related to agri-entrepreneurship that will usher in a paradigm shift in the mindsets of the youths in Assam towards entrepreneurship.
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