This week I traveled to Bengaluru (in Karnataka state, India) to take part in a global meeting of private investors. At ‘Invest Karnataka’ I felt there was a lot of enthusiasm and optimism around Karnataka and the role private sector can play in bringing about economic development.
I was among more than 4,000 participants from the private sector, the government and to a lesser degree civil society that had gathered to talk about ways in which we can build partnerships to invest in long term sustained growth through innovation, an open society and open approach to development.
For me the highlight of the event was the agriculture session in which we had a wide range of industry leaders, speaking to the opportunity around agriculture especially the integration of farmers into the value chain.
Of particular interest to me was the increasing role of organic food as consumers look to that as an option for safe food and the certification process that can be enabled with private sector integration and aggregation of farmers.
Another interesting area was around storage. The need for investment by the government and private sector to improve storage structures, but bulk storage structures and not warehouses of bagged commodities.
A third important area was around value addition and the important role that the processing sector is going to play in creating economic growth within agriculture in Karnataka.
Fourth point would be around the diversified farming systems within Karnataka where a multitude of diversified crops can be cultivated, that open up opportunities for export markets both domestically and internationally.
The last area was around the example of digital technologies starting to play an increasingly important role in connecting consumers with farmers, usually through private sector providers. That connection is increasing value for small-holder farmers, lowering prices for consumers and giving them an assurance of where their food is coming from.
Those were some of the highlights.
I spoke with the Chief Minister, who is very focused on creating an enabling environment for investment in Karnataka with agriculture as one of the key sectors that he sees for the state’s growth in the future.
We had very good support from the Minister of Agriculture, who is very committed to building partnerships for developing the agriculture sector, and the role ICRISAT can play in facilitating that process.
I feel privileged to be able to serve on the vision group for agriculture for the state of Karnataka that is chaired by Professor MS Swaminathan. And I look forward to seeing farmers prosper from a government that’s creating an enabling environment, stimulating private sector investment and looking to innovation to grapple with the complex challenges small-holder farmers face against the backdrop of climate change and evolving markets.