Report on the Workshop on agropedia – an Agri knowledge platform for the Indian Agribusiness Industry
An important element of agropedia is to align with the agribusiness industry, which sustains on the agriculture sector for their various inputs. It’s imperative for a portal like agropedia, which is being seen as a one stop shop for knowledge base on agriculture on various aspects, to also have a deeper understanding of what the industry players are grappling with. This is essential to ensure, there is smooth flow of information from both sides – Scientific community and industry players.
Further, lots of the industry players themselves are into working closely with farmers for some of their inputs. They also provide a lot of best practices to their farmers, which are targeted for their particular crops.
As a part of the project to evaluate the various aspects of agropedia, another initiative is being taken, which will focus on bringing the views of the industry player.
The key objective of this initiative is to understand and ascertain the needs of these institutions, and enrich the portal. The portal can also then become a facilitator between the industry and the research community. With the aim of this, IIM Calcutta agropedia team has organized a half-day workshop on Agribusiness sensitization on October 12, 2012 at Hyatt Regency Sahar, Mumbai. There were representatives from the different Industries like FMCG, Inputs industry, Feed association, Financial Institution etc.
The objective of organizing such a workshop was to reach out to the end users; those businesses connected with agriculture, the food processing industry, agri-tools industry, agri-cooperatives, agri-input providers etc. This workshop was aimed to bring in awareness about agropedia as an agricultural knowledge platform and also to take valuable inputs and suggestions from key industry players.
Briefing of the session and Industry Feedback
The workshop started in the morning with a brief round introduction by the participant and then it began with the presentation on agropedia by Dr. T.V. Prabhakar from IIT Kanpur. Dr. Prabhakar’s presentation talked about the basic features and structure of the website for better understanding and easy browsing in future. The workshop focused on the following key points:
- Relevance of agropedia like portal in the industry's scope of things
- Current Challenges that is faced by the industry in context of having access to knowledge in agriculture
- What are the critical factors or nature of information needed for decision making Industry feedback
- Knowledge Matrix: The kind of information & knowledge base that needs to be added to make agropedia more relevant to there daily business needs & decision taking process.
As the primary agenda for the workshop was to increase awareness regarding agropedia among the industry people, building network and linking to the industry, there was a session for the industry feedback and suggestion. In this session keenness was expressed by the industry to share, the existing domain expertise (which can be shared), to be put up on the portal under; Jan gyan, this is very valuable information, which needs to be harnessed, further. Since, this is practical knowledge which has been accumulated over period of being on the ground. Largely it would pertain to the Commercial aspects of the crop and certain scientific observation. CLFMA (Consolidated livestock & feed Management Association) has expressed willingness to provide Agropedia a platform to share/bring awareness about the portal to its members. This is a very critical support, as once the association endorses, the members also will be keen to participate and add more value. Given the information asymmetry, point raised by all the participants was that, agropedia need to have structured flow of information, which is reliable. Currently this is a big challenge. The PoP's which are currently web based, was suggested to be make accessible over the mobile, which can be accessed by one and all.
In this session some valuable feedback and suggestion were raised like there should be ‘Spaces’ in agropedia portal for policy updates,Business Bulletin for update on new products or services or price catalogues, for new partners or new business opportunities, and also for aggregated public information by business PPTs.
There were few suggestions on the uses of agropedia like, there should be a “guide module” for agropedia portal, RSS feeds from NABARD- through the policy department or CGM, corporate planning division,a ccombined wisdom from livestock forum on how to proceed to expand agropedia purposively into livelihood.
The industry people have also expressed their need from agropedia like, they want IMD data, fortnightly reports, district development indices in the agropedia portal, they want the KVKs to upload district wise data, they want to have a clear view on the mechanisms to harvest GOI data, they need a forum which could run with industry people to collect information from farmers, standardized training modules for development agencies to use,Information modules for specific regions, Section for government schemes, easy to upload material, Provision for region specific queries etc. The industry people also want a section in agropedia portal where some agro vocabulary terms could be translated in various languages, they want agropedia to develop “inference” model for fertilizer and additive needs for soil types based on soil testing info and crop choice,“Share” agroid with progressive farmers, some downloadable mp3s,Audio version of handbooks,Industry associations….contacts and spaces should be there,they have suggested that a Platform – “A Craig List” p2p network to aggregate farm outputs or farm labor is needed.
The workshop was a grand success as the motive behind the workshop was highly satisfied with the valuable feedback from the industry and suggestion which could make agropedia more accessible in future. It was felt that, the industry also was keen to understand how the portal can be of use to them & how they can contribute towards its development. Industry was open to adapt to the portal and its services. They were keen and willing to provide support to take this ahead, which is a great thing and needs to be leverage upon to ensure the sustainability of the portal in the coming years. Agropedia team is now trying to see how these suggestions could be incorporated in this project and they will set their future action plan based on the feedback. Its important to take these initiative ahead, further deeper engagements would need to be made with the industry, which is willing to support and be part of this portal.
We acknowledge the assistance of Mr. A. Jayaram and Mr. Ravi Shankar Mantha for making all the necessary arrangements and communication for the workshop, Dr. T.V. Prabhakar for his presence and detailed demonstration of the agropedia portal. We are also thankful to our consultants Mr. Rahul Goswami, Mr. Sankara Pillai, Prof. Krishanu Rakshit and our co partner Dr. Yaduraju for their valuable inputs.
List of Participants: Agribusiness Sensitization Workshop October 12,2012, Mumbai
Mr. S.M. Sinha
Mr. B.M. Ravikumar
Head Registrations and Regulatory Affairs
Mr. Pravin Patel
Mr. S. Jaikumar
CLFMA of India
Mrs. Vanita Shinde
Mann Deshi Mahila Bank Ltd.
Ms. Ashwini Suresh Hol
Mann Deshi Mahila Bank Ltd.
Mr. Neel Shah
Riverside Mushrooms Pvt. Ltd.
Mr. Arif Mohammad
Mr. Rajesh K Varma
TATA Chemicals Limited
Mr. Rajinder Bhagat
Mr. Rahul Goswami
Mr. Ravi Shankar Mantha
Mr. Sankara Pillai
Prof. Krishanu Rakshit
Prof. Runa Sarkar
PI, IIT Kanpur
Dr. Kiran Yadav