Leading AgTech entrepreneurs are invited to participate in the "DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge" to address water security issues and support the prosperity of 1 million smallholder farmers
In collaboration with the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (GoI), the DCM Shriram Foundation and The/Nudge Institute's Centre for Social Innovation have established a Rs. 2.6 crore reward challenge to encourage innovation at the nexus of effective water usage in agriculture. In India's agri-water ecosystem, the challenge aims to inspire premier AgTech and social impact entrepreneurs to create technologies and solutions on a large scale that will have a significant influence on stagnated livelihood options, particularly for smallholder farmers.
60% of the groundwater used for agriculture in India is used inefficiently. Inconsistent methods for applying nutrients and fertilisers have resulted in soil deterioration and imbalance, which have harmed crop yields and inefficiently used water. As a result, there is a shortage of water and irresponsible usage of freshwater resources.
While announcing the launch, Aman Pannu, President, DCM Shriram Foundation, said, “Any effort aimed at conserving water on a large scale must closely align with the needs of agriculture. Such a program would have to navigate through a complex web of factors, including weather conditions, selection of crops and varieties, yield potential, water requirements of crops, available irrigation resources, water-saving technologies, agronomic practices, agricultural extension services, accessibility of agricultural inputs, electricity availability, and numerous other variables. Additionally, policy changes that affect input pricing and agricultural produce must also be considered. Undoubtedly, creating a conducive environment for water conservation and improving water-use efficiency in agriculture is an exceedingly challenging task.”
The/Nudge Prize for the next DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge has a significant prize fund of INR 2.6 crore. One of the most lucrative grant prizes for sustainable agricultural initiatives is included, with a grand prize of Rs. 2 crore going to the winner. Three further finalists who successfully pass the milestone levels will each receive a total of Rs. 60 lakh (Rs. 30/20/10 lakh, respectively).
The challenge is also enabling an AgWater and SHF expert ecosystem, made up of top industry companies, government agencies, research institutions, and senior mentors/visionaries from across India and beyond, in order to create unprecedented urgency and impact on this problem. The/Nudge Prize for the next DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge has a significant prize fund of Rs. 2.6 Crore.
Kanishka Chatterjee, Director, The/Nudge Prize, added, “While lucrative solutions addressing agri-water problems have gained momentum in recent years, there has been far less vitality in affordable and accessible models for small and marginal farmers. Their high dependence on groundwater and increased vulnerability to water stress/climatic changes, land productivity, price, and market risks call for audacious problem solving”
To improve the agricultural water utilisation of smallholder farmers through technological interventions, specifically for water intensive crops like rice, wheat, sugarcane, and cotton, this highly anticipated challenge will meticulously identify a cohort of 15-20 exceptional solutions from a large pool of applicants. A distinguished panel of advisors, including well-known agri investors, policymakers, academics, and thought leaders from organisations like DCM Shriram, RICH Telangana, MANAGE, SocialAlpha, TISS, Acumen, ThinkAg, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, among others, will select the cohort and provide support for it for a period of 12 months. The chosen cohort will participate in immersions, mentorship sessions, interventions, and pilots throughout the challenge, all of which will be facilitated by an advanced and high-performing ecosystem with the shared goal of resolving AgWater problems for smallholder farmers.