University generated technologies reach rural entrepreneurs in Assam

14 - April, Hyderabad

An Agriculture Innovation partnership, an initiative which has a potential to create a cluster of small ventures that can adopt university supported technologies, is stated to have been successful in Assam.

The partnership, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has brought together American land grant universities, Indian agriculture universities and a Hyderabad-based private sector consultancy firm Sathguru to play a role in transfer of university generated technologies to reach rural entrepreneurs in Assam.

Under the partnership, the process technologies for fruits, vegetables and dairy products, developed by Assam Agriculture University with the help of Cornell University of the US, have been delivered to small entrepreneurs.

“This has resulted in value-added fruit and vegetable products, dairy products and conversion of bio mass into particle panels,” Sathguru Management Consultants founder director, K Vijayaraghavan, told Business Standard.

According to Vijayaraghavan, though Assam produces a number of fruits such as pineapple and spices like ginger, a large quantity of them decay due to lack of local markets for fresh produce. Almost a third of the 220,000 tonnes of pineapple produced in the state get wasted due to lack of adequate storage facilities and local purchases. Due to difficult terrain for road movement, the fresh produce do not get easily transported to urban areas of other states.

Vijayaraghavan said Sathguru, which is currently working with Assam and Banaras universities, was looking at how universities could trigger technologies for adoption by small entrepreneurs.

He said Innovation partnership had demonstrated how solar-dried and low-heat processed fruits such as pineapple and spices like ginger could provide shelf-stable products for the urban markets.

“The partnership has not only provided hand-holding support to small entrepreneurs to embrace appropriate technologies to bring their rural products to urban markets, but also supported a number of self-employed youth to seek financial support from bank to establish small ventures,” said Suresh from Sathguru who has been engaged in the region for over four years.

Suresh said small entrepreneurs in Assam were trained to convert fish and poultry into shelf-stable pickle products, now branded and distributed not only in Assam but also in other parts of the country. This effort was successfully carried out by a women entrepreneur.

While the dairy based beverage, according to Suresh, had been transferred to an existing dairy venture in the state, the technologies relating to processing of fruits and vegetables and meat products have been transferred to two local entrepreneurs who came froward to set up their units. The pickle unit has the potential to do about Rs 5 crore business this year and the fruits and vegetable units have the potential to achieve Rs 1 crore annually.

“The approach such as this has the potential to create a cluster of small ventures that can adopt university-supported technologies with low investment of Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore per venture,” he added.

Source : Business Standard