India, one of the largest producers of food in the world, is working on ambitious targets to transform the state of agriculture in order to feed its growing population – poised to cross 1.5 billion by 2030 – while keeping the well-being of farmers at the forefront, especially smallholder and women farmers. The Indian agritech sector is expected to lead this transformation through path-breaking innovations to make agriculture more inclusive, sustainable and efficient. Technological integration will also create more jobs, particularly for young people.
Looking at a $65 billion economic opportunity for India in digital agriculture, the World Economic Forum’s flagship AI4AI (AI for Agriculture Innovation) initiative was launched in 2020. After extensive consultations among a range of stakeholders, an insight report documented 30 priority use cases of emerging technologies in agriculture. The Government of Telangana became the first in India to adopt a public-private partnership framework in which the government would create an enabling ecosystem for the private sector to invest in innovating and scaling agritech solutions.
Through subsequent deliberations, use cases, value chains and geographies were prioritized, giving shape to Project Saagu Baagu (the term means "agricultural progress" in Telangana's native language, Telugu). Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented by global development organization Digital Green, the first phase of Saagu Baagu has directly touched 7,000 chilli farmers in Telangana. A consortium of four agritech players offering soil testing, quality testing, e-commerce and advisories implemented the project on the ground.
This insight report presents the successes of and learnings from the first phase, as Telangana prepares to launch the second phase with the aim of reaching 100,000 farmers across more crops and districts.