20 June 2023, New Delhi: DCM Shriram Foundation and The/Nudge Institute’s Centre for Social Innovation with the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (GoI) have launched an INR 2.6 crore prize challenge aimed at the efficient use of water. The challenge seeks to encourage leading AgTech & Social Impact Entrepreneurs to develop population-scale solutions & innovations within India’s agri-water ecosystem.
80% of India’s groundwater is used for agriculture, but 60% of this is inefficient utilization. Misaligned practices on the application of nutrients and fertilizers have led to imbalance and soil degradation resulting in inefficiency in water utilization, declining groundwater, and affecting crop yields. Hence, water scarcity, non-judicious use of freshwater resources, unsustainable agricultural practices, overdependence on erratic rainfall, and climate change threaten the state of the agriculture sector in India.
For the upcoming DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge, The/Nudge Prize encompasses a substantial prize purse of INR 2.6 Crore. This includes a grand prize of INR 2 Crore for the winner, representing one of the most generous grant prizes for sustainable agricultural interventions. Additionally, a total of 60 Lakh rupees will be distributed among three other finalists who successfully cross the milestone thresholds (INR 30/20/10 Lakh respectively).
While announcing the launch, Aman Pannu, President of CM Shriram Foundation said, “Any effort aimed at conserving water on a large scale must closely align with the needs of agriculture. DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge has been launched in collaboration with The/Nudge Institute with significant emphasis on addressing the water-related challenges in agriculture. The challenge invites disruptive technology-driven agricultural startups and social entrepreneurs to innovate and provide tangible solutions to this intricate problem specifically focused on scalability for smallholder farmers.”
Kanishka Chatterjee, Director, The/Nudge Prize added, “An inducement challenge like the DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge, pushes AgTech to develop, demonstrate & deploy rapid innovation for this critical problem. Innovating for efficient water utilization in agriculture holds the potential to improve economic outcomes for over 600 million smallholder farmers across the country.”
This highly anticipated challenge will meticulously identify a cohort of 15-20 exceptional solutions from a vast pool of applicants, who are working on improving the agricultural water utilization of smallholder farmers through technological interventions – specifically for water-intensive crops like rice, wheat, sugarcane & cotton, for the first time. The selected cohort will be chosen and supported for 12 months by a distinguished group of advisors comprising prominent Agri Investors, Policymakers, Academia, Thought Leaders from DCM Shriram, RICH Telangana, MANAGE, SocialAlpha, TISS, Acumen, ThinkAg, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, etc., among others.
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