IRMA's Incubator for Social Enterprises and Entrepreneurs for Development (ISEED) launched its second national conference on "Incubating Rural and Social Enterprises" at IRMA on February 26, 2018. As part of its two-day conference, IRMA has invited a galaxy of well known names from diverse fields.
Welcoming the guests during the inaugural session, IRMA's Director Prof. Hitesh Bhatt, spoke about the necessity to rise above oneself for the larger good. It was for one of these reasons, he said, that IRMA's founder, Dr. Verghese Kurien, "exhorted us to tread the untrodden path."
Prof. C. Shambu Prasad, a professor at IRMA and the brain behind the launch of ISEED said that "even though we are Number Three in the world as far as incubators go we realized that we can bring about change only with the help of partnerships. Working with other social entrepreneurs we hope to create a vibrant ecosystem of social entrepreneurship."
Former IAS officer and current CEO of Sabziwala (a Delhi-based startup working towards integrating farmers and markets) Mr. Parvesh Sharma identified rural poverty as the main challenge to agricultural growth. "India is the last country," he said, "where a majority of the population is dependent on agriculture. The country has 14 crore farm households, which is larger than China." The challenge, thus, is gigantic. Yet, he emphasized, there is hope as "we have solved our food security problem." The reason being, he said, "that larger economies like the North America, Western Europe and, Latin America... and, more recently, China and South East Asia have reduced the consumption of cereals with the latter going into the animal protein chain."
Well-known economist Mr. Dinesh Awasthi, also former Professor and Director of Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (Ahmedabad) identified two problems dogging agriculture, the first being the "reduced size of farms". Thanks to land fragmentation "farm sizes are reducing every day", he observed. The second problem that needed to be addressed on an urgent basis has to do with "harvest wastage, which is to the tune of Rs. 100,000 crore."
Dr. NC Patel, who took over as Vice Chancellor of Anand Agricultural University, pointed out that farmers, despite MSP (minimum support price) are unable to acquire market prices for their produce. The only way of getting around this problem is through "processing after production and decentralizing enterprises".
The ISEED national conference is hosting workshops on agricultural entrepreneurship, tribal entrepreneurship, and incubation ecosystem between February 26 2018 and February 27, 2018. It will end with the launch of a book, "Gem of Purest Ray Serene: A Glimpse into Lives and Works of India's Outstanding Social Workers" by Ajit Kanitkar of Vikasanvesh Foundation and Astad Pastakia, an independent consultant.