In times when people expect the government to do more and more for farmers, a start-up founder built a compelling case for the opposite. He believes the government should do less and give way for start-ups.

In a wake-up call to agri business houses, he said: “We must embrace change in the agri sector, before it erases us. In this decade, let’s reorient our business to be farmer-centric; we making money should happen only when the farmer makes money. Let’s build business models which have inconsequential revenues coming from the government”.

He is Sathya Raghu, Co-founder & President of Kheyti. He spoke about the role of start-ups and tech in re-imagining Indian agriculture at the summit here on Friday.

Re-imagining a landscape

He expressed hope that agritech can do in this decade what fintech did in the last one, provided agri business stakeholders are willing to change the rules of the game and work across the conventional lines that businesses draw. He encouraged bureaucrats, business leaders and policy-makers to re-imagine a landscape with the farmer at the centre. He argued that #FarmersFirst and #SatyamevaJayate are two pre-requisites for this transformation.

By FarmersFirst, he meant the farmer should be at the centre of decision-making. He asked, “How can our business model be such that we making money is linked to farmers making money?” Then, immediately, we get the missing links for farmers to make money. By #SatyamevaJayate, he meant that we should be honest about the progress, numbers and that such honesty will be the founding stone for data-driven decision-making.

He felt the need for the government to opt for science and evidence-based decision-making. He pointed out that the success of agri business depends on government deliberately reducing its role in the sector and allowing conditions favourable for market-based models to solve the problems, wherever possible. He encouraged the government to focus on local solutions, with the possibility of reversing them based on feedback.

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