Agri universities and research institutes are cultivating farm startups

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Agri universities and research institutes are cultivating farm startups Shanky Sungroya is a first year MSc student in the school of agriculture at Lovely Professional University (LPU), Punjab. But he is already running an enterprise with a monthly sales of Rs 80,000. The icing on the cake is that his venture, Green Grocer, sells agriculture products made on campus and it was incubated by the university. It was in the second year of his bachelor degree that Sungroya came up with the idea of sourcing and selling fruit and vegetables harvested from the campus farms.LPU’s agriculture department farms on 1,000 acres, according to Pratham Mittal, head of new initiatives at the university. The 28,000 staff and students who live on campus, according to LPU, became potential customers for the venture. 

Sungroya floated his idea and LPU, the only private university with an agriculture school accredited by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), mentored him. It did not charge for the produce and allowed him to use an on-campus shop. “LPU has sanctioned Rs 10 lakh for Green Grocer,” says Manish Saini, deputy director, LPU Startup School. “After the first year,” Sungroya says, “my business plan evolved into a B2B model, supplying to the 230 commercial vendors on our campus. I’m now also sourcing from Jalandhar. Daily sales turnover is Rs 70,000-80,000.” Green Grocer, which will launch operations in Jalandhar and Phagwara in six months, is looking at an annual turnover of Rs 2.5 crore. Sungroya, who plans to add grocery products such as atta, wants to start sourcing directly from local farms. 

Green Grocer is an example of how universities and research institutes are helping entrepreneurs germinate, incubate and scale up agriculture-focussed businesses that combine science and technology with management and marketing skills. ICAR is supporting such universities encourage students to dream big about agriculture. The National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) in Hyderabad, also plays a major role by acting as a business incubator. Other major institutes across the country that have ICAR-supported incubators for farm sector startups include Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Coimbatore; Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, Thanjavur; Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore; Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology, Mumbai; Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Kochi.

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By BOA Bureau