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Scaling Agri-Startups and Enterprises

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  • Published
    28th Aug, 2021


  • The Government of India, the State governments, the private sector, and the NGOs have initiated several steps towards strengthening the Agri-startup ecosystem. The stakeholders are working more cohesively like never before. The financial agencies are infusing handsome money into start-ups and helping them to scale up, reach wider geographies and penetrate deeper to reach the maximum number of customers.

 Government of India's Startup Indiainitiative; Agri-entrepreneurship and Innovation component of RKVY-RAFTAAR; Startup incubation and innovation funding support from DBT, DST, NABARD and NITI Aayog; are accelerating the scaling-up of Agri-Startups.

Similarly, infrastructure development fund for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Fisheries (PM MatsyaSampada Yojana), Food Processing (PM Kisan Sampada Yojana) and Vocal for Local initiativeof Ministry of Food Processing and Industries to promote micro food enterprises, are promoting agri-business eco-system and supporting Agri-Business enterprises.

Start-up India

This Government of India initiative was announced on 15th August 2015. The action plan of this initiative is focussing on three areas

  1. Simplification and Handholding,
  2. Funding Support and Incentives, and
  3. Industry-Academia Partnership and Incubation.

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPI&IT) is supporting startups for registration, land permissions, foreign investment proposals, and environmental clearances.

In 2015-16, India had approximately 200 startups registered on the Startup India portal representing all the sectors. In 2021, the agriculture and allied sector account for 14,311 startups.

Initiatives Towards Promoting Agri-Startups

  1. Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana – Remunerative Approaches for Agricultural and Rejuvenation (RKVY-RAFTAAR):

In the year 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare came up with (RKVY RAFTAAR) scheme under the component called "Innovation and Agri-Entrepreneurship Development".

    • To provide financial support and nurturing to the incubation ecosystem.
    • To encourage start-ups in agriculture and to contribute directly or indirectly to enhance the income of farmers by providing them with some new opportunities and providing employment to youth.
    • 24 RKVY-RAFTAAR Agribusiness Incubation Centres were established across India and for their handholding, five Knowledge Partners are entrusted.
      1. National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management Hyderabad,
      2. National Institute of Agricultural Marketing (NIAM) Jaipur,
      3. Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) New Delhi,
      4. University of Agriculture Science Dharwad, and
      5. Assam Agriculture University at Jorhat

The program comprised of supporting the entrepreneurs at two stages of growth:

  1. Ideation stage and
  2. Scale-up stage

Agripreneurship Orientation program is meant for the entrepreneurs at the ideation stage.

Startup Agribusiness Incubation program aims at supporting the startups at the scale-up stage. They are trained for two months, provided with business support services and grant in aid

  1. Department of Science and Technology (DST):
    • Science Technology and Entrepreneurship Park were already operating in India and supporting the aspiring entrepreneurs to set up businesses and scale up further.
    • The emphasis of these institutions was primarily on businesses backed up by deeper technologies.
  1. Atal Innovation Mission (AIM):
    • AIM’s objective is to develop new programmes and policies for fostering innovation in different sectors of the economy, provide platforms and collaboration opportunities for different stakeholders, and create an umbrella structure to oversee the innovation & entrepreneurship ecosystem of the country.
  1. Department of Biotechnology (DBT):
    • Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), which is a not-for-profit Section 8, Schedule B, Public Sector Enterprise, has been set up by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), as an Interface Agency to strengthen and empower the emerging Biotech enterprise to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs.
  1. Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises— ASPIRE:
    • A Scheme for Promotion of Innovation, Rural Industry & Entrepreneurship (ASPIRE) is curated by the Ministry of MSME, Gol. Under the scheme, Livelihood Business Incubators and Technology Business Incubators can be established.
  1. Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY):
    • InPradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency Bank or MUDRA Banks provide loans at low rates to micro-finance institutions and non-banking financial institutions, who in turn provide low-interest loans to startups and MSMEs.

Related Information

There are three categories of businesses, which can avail loans under MUDRA loan for startups:

  1. Shishu - For new businesses. Loans up to Rs. 50,000 can be availed.
  2. Kishor - For mid-aged business. loans up to Rs. 5 lakhs can be availed.
  3. Tarun - For an existing, experienced business. Loans up to Rs. 10 lakhs can be availed.
  1. Agri-Clinics and Agri-Business Centres (ACABC), DAC&FW, MoA&FW:
    • It aims to provide self-employment opportunities to the agricultural graduates through entrepreneurship development training and appropriate financial-subsidy support to establish Agri-enterprises and consultancy services to support farmers and also to complement the public extension systems for the overall agricultural development.
  1. Initiatives of Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR):

ICAR has come up with several initiatives to promote agri-entrepreneurship and technology transfer. Some of the initiatives are explained below:

    1. Intellectualpropertyandtechnologymanagement (IP&TM)
    2. Business Planning and Development (BPD)
    3. Agri-Business Incubators
    4. Agri Entrepreneur Growth Foundation
  1. State Governments Initiatives:
    1. Kerela Start-up Mission (KUSUM)
    2. T-Hub (Telangana)
    3. Initial Innovation Fund (Andhra Pradesh)
    4. Start-up Oasis (Rajasthan)

Initiatives Towards Promoting Agri-Startups:

MANAGE Centre for Innovation and Agripreneurship (MANAGE-CIA)

MANAGE-(CIA) is a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Agribusiness Incubation and Knowledge Partner for strengthening, hand-holding and demonstrating best practices to the RKVY-RAFTAAR Agri-Business Incubators (R-ABIs).

  1. Incubation Programme:
    • Center for Innovation and Agripreneurship (CIA)-MANAGE runs a regular Incubation Programme to facilitate early-stage Agri Startups to scale up their business.
  1. Krishi Vikas — Search for Agri Innovations:
    • Krishi Vikas is one of the flagship programmes of CIA-MANAGE, wherein grass root level innovations across the country are identified and facilitated.
  1. Impulse — An Agribusiness Mentoring Platform:
    • Impulse facilitates in connecting aspiring entrepreneurs with Mentors. It addresses the crucial need for expert guidance to establish agribusinesses in rural India on a larger scale. 

Scaling-up Start-ups: Funding Sources

  1. Bootstrapping/Self-financing:
    • Bootstrapping a startup means growing your business with little or no venture capital or outside investment. It means relying on your own savings and revenue to operate and expand.
  1. Business Plan/Pitching Events:
    • This is the prize money/grants/financial benefits that are provided by institutes or organisations that conduct business plan corn petitions and challenges.
  1. Incubators:
    • Incubators are organisations setup with the specific goal of assisting entrepreneurs with building and launching their startups.
  1. Government Loan Schemes:
    • The government has initiated a few loan schemes to provide collateral-free debt to aspiring entrepreneurs and help them gain access to low-cost capital. Some such schemes include CGTMSE, MUDRA, and Stand-up India.
  1. Angel Investors:
    • Angel investors are individuals who investtheir money into high potential startups in return for equity.
  1. Crowdfunding:
    • Crowdfunding refers to raising money from many people who each contribute a relatively small amount.
  1. Venture Capital Funds:
    • Venture capital (VC) funds are professionally managed investment funds that invest exclusively in high growth startups.
  1. Banks/NBFCs:
  2. Venture Debt Funds:
    • Venture Debt funds are private investment funds that invest money in startups primarily in the form of debt. Debt funds typically invest along with an angel or VC round.
  1. TReDs:
    • TReDS is an electronic platform for facilitating the financing / discounting of trade receivables of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through multiple financiers.TReDS addresses the gaps in the MSME industry as enterprises face challenges in getting their payments on time, thus creating working capital discrepancies.
  1. Private Equity/Investment Firms:
    • Private equity/Investment firms generally do not fund startups however, lately, some private equity and investment firms have been providing funds for fast-growing late-stage startups who have maintained a consistent growth record.
  1. Initial Public Offering:
    • Initial Public Offer (IPO) refers to the event where a startup lists on the stock market for the first time. It is generally undertaken by startups with an impressive track record of profits and who are growing at a steady pace.


Several interventions are being taken up by Central and State Governments, the Private Sector and NGOs towards strengthening the agri-startup ecosystem. The ecosystem stakeholders are working more cohesively like never before. These start-ups are making a significant impact on the lives of the farming community These are shifting the mindset of youth and others towards entrepreneurship in agriculture and allied sectors.



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