Assam gets first Agribusiness Growth Lab to support agri-enterprises

Assam got its own Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab which is aimed to support enterprises in the agri and allied sectors in the state. The Agribusiness Growth Lab plans to support 100 agri-entrepreneurs from Assam in a span of 4 years.

Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab (AAGL) is an initiative 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 programme jointly.

The programme was launched on June 30 at the Assam Agricultural University campus in Guwahati in the presence of eminent dignitaries, industry associations, ecosystem players, agripreneurs, government stakeholders and the media.

State project director at ARIAS Society, Vinod Seshan, inaugurated the event and formally launched the programme video, website and the online application portal. Speaking on the occasion, Seshan emphasized on strict policy formulation for quality control and seed funding for agribusiness ventures. He stated that 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 filip to the growth of agri businesses of the state,” Seshan said.

Hemendra Mathur of Bharat Innovation Fund (BIF) shared with the audience an investor’s perspective, on how the agri & allied sector is shaping up in India.

Entrepreneurship specialist of Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab programme, Afreen Rahman, moderated a panel discussion with a few promising agri-entrepreneurs of the state.

Some of the common concerns of the agri-entrepreneurs of the state raised by a few local entrepreneurs in a discussion panel in the launch event are access to capital, knowledge-networking, linkage to high-value markets etc. 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 programme 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 best quality curated new products/services.

Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab (AAGL) aims to support and handhold 100 agri-entrepreneurs within a span of 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 programme equitable and provide gender balanced growth.

“Under 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,” a statement said.

“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,” it added.

About Jayanta Deka

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Jayanta Deka is a Guwahati-based journalist with over a decade of experience in journalism. Tracking new media, technology, startups and politics interest him. He can be reached through deka.jayanta@gmail.com

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