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Mahindra and Johnson Controls plan to roll out the initiative in March 2024 through virtual and in-person workshop sessions as part of a year-long roadshow

As India ramps up efforts to decarbonise its rapidly growing infrastructure of buildings, the Mahindra Group, one of India’s leading industrial enterprises, and Johnson Controls, the global leader in smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, announced the first-of-its-kind Net Zero Buildings Initiative to decarbonise India’s commercial, urban residential and public buildings. The joint initiative will simplify access to key information and resources to help organisations start their net zero-building journeys.

“At Mahindra, we strongly believe in operating as a ‘Planet Positive’ organisation. The group has undertaken multiple initiatives to decarbonise our operational infrastructure, leading to financial and environmental value accretive outcomes. We also understand the critical role of collaboration in accelerating a sustainable future, and hence join hands with Johnson Controls, leaders in net zero building solutions, to share our learnings and best practices with everyone” said Abanti Sankaranarayanan, Chief Group Public Affairs Officer and Group Executive Board Member.

According to the International Energy Agency, three-quarters of India’s anticipated 2040 buildings have yet to be built. With the sector accounting for 20 per cent of emissions and more than 30 per cent of energy consumption in the country, the transition to smart and sustainable buildings is becoming an environmental and economic imperative.

“With India on the cusp of a building revolution, now is the time to actualise the benefits of smart and green buildings for India’s economy and society,” said George Oliver, Chairman and CEO of Johnson Controls. “The joining of our two companies to develop this unique initiative is a natural fit—leveraging Johnson Controls’ leadership in smart building technology and Mahindra’s renowned multi-industry expertise and reach. We believe it will help guide and inspire a movement toward a more sustainable built environment in India and beyond.”

The Net Zero Buildings Initiative—comprising a cost-free, all-in-one toolkit and training—will help building and facility owners learn about best practices of sustainable buildings, implement tools to assess building parameters, identify and implement conservation measures, and understand building regulations in India, available incentives, technology, financing models, and more.

Mahindra and Johnson Controls plan to roll

Two collaborations – with IBM Research and with US biotech Maxygen – brought their respective pioneering approaches in data-based prediction modelling

Syngenta Group, one of the world’s leading global agriculture technology companies, announced important collaborations following the launch of its innovation accelerator platform Shoots by Syngenta in 2023. These collaborations, which connect expertise across industries and sectors, are aimed at making possible novel solutions to agricultural challenges more quickly and efficiently.

Two collaborations – with IBM Research and with US biotech Maxygen – brought their respective pioneering approaches in data-based prediction modelling, and in the directed evolution of proteins more commonly leveraged in the pharmaceutical industry, together with Syngenta’s world-leading agricultural research and proprietary data sets.

“Helping growers sustainably feed a rapidly growing human population requires a strong collaboration focus, not just across agriculture but across industries,” said Gusui Wu, Global Head of Seeds Research. “Collaboration is at the heart of how our scientists approach innovation every day. It is embedded in our scientific culture, and we are continually seeking out different technologies, solutions, and partners to help us better serve farmers.”

Two collaborations – with IBM Research and

Diverse agribusiness will utilise Regrow’s platform for the soybean programme

Regrow Ag, the Agriculture Resilience Platform provider, and Bartlett, a Savage Company announced their partnership to advance sustainability commitments. The Regrow platform supports rigorous Scope 3 emissions analysis, and the ability to create actionable carbon reduction plans and track environmental outcomes on the farm level. Bartlett will use Regrow’s solution to determine county-level emissions factors for its soybean supply shed. The platform will also provide insights into current regenerative practice adoption, to assist Bartlett in designing programs to support more sustainable farming practices.

When its new soybean crush plant opens later this year in Montgomery County, Kansas, Bartlett will work with local farmers, cooperatives and commercial grain elevators to handle approximately 49 million bushels of soybeans annually at the facility, which has already begun accepting soybeans. By leveraging the insights from Regrow’s technology, Bartlett will be able to create sustainability strategies for soy oil and soy meal co-products, with data collection and reporting designed to meet evolving sustainability standards for biofuels and insetting programs. Analysing current practice adoption will also help Bartlett prioritize counties with the highest abatement potential.

Regrow combines industry-leading science and technology to help companies across the agriculture value chain measure, report, and reduce on-farm emissions, using aggregated field-level data to create a baseline. Using its soil carbon models and remote-sensing-based technology, Regrow will help Bartlett identify opportunities to support farmers by calculating high-precision emissions factors and other critical sustainability metrics.

Diverse agribusiness will utilise Regrow’s platform for

The two companies will also explore setting up a research & development facility in the country  

Dhanuka Agritech, one of the leading agri-input companies in India, announced that it has signed a ‘Letter of Intent’ with Spain-based Kimitec to explore various business opportunities, including setting up a joint venture in India for the development and commercialisation of biological products using natural molecules & derived from natural sources. 

 The two companies will also explore setting up a Research & Development facility in the country.  

Biological products are derived from natural sources using botany, microbiology, microalgae, and bioinformatics. These represent a sustainable category of products providing crop protection, soil health, and plant nutrition. These products can be used individually or in combination with conventional chemical products as per the requirements. 

 “As part of our continuous effort to offer the best products and solutions to the Indian farming community, we have signed a non-binding Letter of Intent with Spain’s Kimitec to explore various business opportunities, including setting up a joint venture in India and an R&D facility, as well as the commercialization of biological products. The demand for biological products is increasing globally, and we see an uptrend for these products in India too.” said Rahul Dhanuka, Joint Managing Director, Dhanuka Agritech. 

Kimitec, is a cutting-edge biotech company & founder of MAAVi Innovation Center, the largest European biotech innovation hub dedicated to natural molecules. Kimitec has implemented a revolutionary AI platform at MAAVi Innovation Center. Known by the name of LINNA this AI platform is already providing Kimitec with around 35 per cent of candidate compounds for product development.

“As part of our mission to change the way food is produced globally, we have identified Dhanuka Agritech Ltd as a perfect partner to bring our natural yet as effective as chemicals solutions to farmers in India,” said Félix García, CEO of Kimitec.

Kimitec operates in more than 100 countries around the world and collaborates with MNC’s to develop and commercialize biological products for B2B and B2C markets.

Dhanuka Group already has tie-ups with seven leading agrochemical companies from the US, Japan, and Europe, to introduce the latest technology and products in India. 

The two companies will also explore setting

Through this partnership, AgVision will seamlessly integrate its grain accounting software solutions into Barchart’s elevator-branded Marketplace mobile apps and online grower portals

Barchart, a commodity data and technology leader trusted by over 600 agribusinesses representing over 2,000-grain facilities, and AgVision, a leader in agribusiness software for grain, feed, fertilizer, inventory and retail accounting, have together announced a new partnership that will enable agribusinesses to make stronger relationships with their growers.

Through this partnership, AgVision will seamlessly integrate its grain accounting software solutions into Barchart’s elevator-branded Marketplace mobile apps and online grower portals.  This integration will facilitate secure real-time access to critical producer data, including scale tickets and contracts, delivered directly to growers’ mobile phones.  This provides growers with the information they need to enhance their decision-making capabilities, ultimately leading to improved operational efficiency and profitability.

In addition to empowering growers with streamlined data access, Marketplace apps and online grower portals help streamline agribusiness workflows by connecting seamlessly with cmdtyView – the leading merchandiser desktop solution – through market analysis and intelligence, offer and hedge management, communication tools, and grower data.

Through this partnership, AgVision will seamlessly integrate

Burro is the leading plug-and-play autonomous robot available that increases productivity in conventional production environments

Philadelphia-based Burro, an autonomous mobility company providing solutions for the agriculture industry, announced today that it has launched a new product, Burro Grande, the company’s most powerful labour-saving robot. To date In terms of capabilities, Burro Grande expands beyond people scale (500 lb. payload, light-duty towing) to a true pallet-scale vehicle (1,500 lb. payloads, 5,000 lb. towing), and features Burro Operation System Software V 5.0 to enable indoor/outdoor LiDAR-based localisation for autonomous movement across indoor and outdoor operations.

All electric, the environmentally friendly Burro Grande will carry or tow heavy loads over multiple terrains for up to 15 miles between charges. When paired with the company’s Atlas Mission Autonomy, Burro’s online route creation platform, users can construct, manage and share routes across their fleet. Whether towing, carrying or following, Burro Grande allows your existing equipment operators to step away from the seat of a tractor or UTV, saving valuable labour.

Burro is the leading plug-and-play autonomous robot available that increases productivity in conventional production environments. It also features patent-pending Pop Up Autonomy™, which means the technology works immediately out of the box and empowers users on a job site to be up and running with very little training and can be used across multiple environments. Burro does not require centralised control or installation of burdensome infrastructure. Instead, its robots use computer vision (cameras) and AI to learn and to navigate autonomously from points A to B while carrying loads, as well as mowers and partner technology applications, such as artificial pollinators. Burro is proven to help agricultural clients realise improvements in efficiency by up to 40 per cent.

Burro is the leading plug-and-play autonomous robot

The partnership will focus on enhancing the mechanisation of fruit harvesting, specifically apples, integrating cutting-edge techniques

CNH signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research – Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture (ICAR-CITH), Srinagar to collaborate on fruit harvesting technology in India.

The partnership will focus on enhancing the mechanisation of fruit harvesting, specifically apples, integrating cutting-edge techniques. It will also foster the development of innovative solutions tailored to India’s unique agricultural challenges.

“This strategic partnership seeks to pioneer groundbreaking innovation within horticulture. Together with ICAR – CITH, we look forward to combining our knowledge and expertise to deliver a step change in agricultural efficiency and productivity, benefiting the farmers and the wider agriculture community,” said Dr Garv Modwel, Group Leader, Advanced Technology and Innovation, CNH India Technology Center.

According to the MOU, CNH will oversee the design and development process of harvesting. The company will supply prototypes for field tests and make improvements based on the trial outcomes.

Dr M.K Verma, Director, ICAR – CITH Srinagar, said, “We look forward to collaborating with CNH to bring technological advancement to the Indian horticultural sector. The project offers an opportunity for our experts to apply their experience and understanding in developing solutions that will help reshape the future of fruit harvesting in India.”

ICAR-CITH will support image collection, logistics and operational aspects. The institute will analyse field test data such as picking efficiency, post-harvest losses, and the impact on fruit quality.

The partnership will focus on enhancing the

The declaration highlights the need to strengthen digital Infrastructure including digital e-learning content and deployment of emerging immersive technologies across Agricultural Higher Education Institutions

There is a need to strengthen digital Infrastructure including digital e-learning content and deployment of emerging immersive technologies across Agricultural Higher Education Institutions in India. Institutionalising a system-wide Digital Capacity Building Program across stakeholders to improve systemic digital competence, knowledge and skills is also a necessity.

The Delhi Declaration on Modernisation of Agricultural Education System in alignment with the National Education Policy issued jointly by The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the World Bank highlights the need to incorporate digital resources and tools for effective and accessible teaching and learning in Agriculture. It lays emphasis towards creating a renewed and resilient system for gender-inclusive and sustainable education that will pave the way for India’s agriculture education sector. Multidisciplinary technology-facilitated education should be promoted and the policies on Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Mathematics (STEAM) in agricultural higher education need to be transformed.

The Delhi Declaration was unveiled on the concluding day of the successful three-day International Conference on Blended Learning Ecosystem for Higher Education in Agriculture 2023 hosted jointly by the ICAR and the World Bank. The Conference was held as part of the National Agricultural Higher Education Project’s (NAHEP) Resilient Agricultural Education System (RAES) development initiative.

Undertaken to strengthen the National Agricultural Education System in the country, NAHEP is a five-year project initiated in 2018 with an equal contribution of $82.5 million (about Rs. 600 crores) each from the World Bank and the central government. The World Bank loan is to be repaid over 19 years after a grace period of five years, the purpose of NAHEP is to transform agricultural higher education. The Blended Learning Platform is part of the project.

Speaking at the valedictory session, Dr R B Singh, Former President of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) and Chairman, of the Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB) said, “By promoting sustainable development goals through the dissemination of knowledge and skills, we empower the next generation of agricultural leaders to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Let us continue to collaborate across borders and disciplines, to ensure that agriculture remains a force for positive change in the world.”

According to Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Former Secretary Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE) and Director General, ICAR, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, “Education is the backbone of a thriving agricultural sector. Blended learning offers a powerful tool to bridge the gap between traditional classroom teaching and the demands of a rapidly changing world. I urge all stakeholders to embrace it and integrate it into our education systems. It is important for us to embrace new methods and technologies to strengthen the agriculture education system and develop a skilled workforce that can contribute to the growth of the agriculture sector.” 

“India’s agricultural sector pays a massive significance on the country’s economy. Every year, more than 5000 Indian students receive PhDs, which is more than the rest of the globe. I believe NAHEP is the perfect example of how opportunities can be provided for vocational education as it has given the platform to another initiative called the Resilient Agricultural Education System (RAES). We will continue working with the ICAR and the Government of India to disseminate new technologies so that all states of the country can benefit equally from them,” said Dr Auguste Tano Kouame, Country Director, of the World Bank.

The declaration highlights the need to strengthen

The fund expects to invest in 12 startups and has already secured commitments from leading investors such as IndusInd Bank

Caspian Equity, a Hyderabad-based venture capital fund that invests in social impact startups has launched a new equity fund LEAF (Leap for Agriculture Fund) with a focus on early-stage Food & Agribusiness startups. LEAF intends to achieve positive social and environmental impact through its investments besides aiming to attain attractive financial returns by laying emphasis on closely working with the portfolio companies to provide the required support.
 
“Caspian LEAF will focus on high-impact, close-to-farmer solutions that benefit small and marginal farmers. Some of the spaces we are looking at are efficiency in input use, reduction in drudgery, labour-saving farm machinery, close-to-farm processing and traceability solutions. We hope to be more than just investors, and help build robust and sustainable businesses that become market leaders in the spaces they operate in,” said Emmanuel Murray, Investment Director at Caspian Equity and Fund Manager of Caspian LEAF Fund.
 
The fund, which has a size of Rs 52 crore, will invest in pre-series A startups with ticket sizes ranging from Rs 1-5 crore. The fund expects to invest in 12 startups and has already secured commitments from leading investors such as IndusInd Bank.  
  
The fund aims to combine access to equity in the critical years of transaction and scaling up of start-up operations with close operational support and oversight on governance structures. The Fund intends to contribute significantly to improving the value chain of Agriculture majorly in the upstream segment which will address pain points across different elements of the agri value chain.

The fund expects to invest in 12

SBI will provide loans at the market rate to the customers of IoTech World Aviation without any mortgage, a 3 per cent concession in interest.

State Bank of India (SBI) and drone manufacturer IoTech World have come together to provide agri-drones to farmers at affordable prices and low loans. The two companies signed a formal agreement. The SBI will give loans at 3 per cent less than the market rate to the farmers, who buy agricultural drones from IoTech World Company.

Deepak Bhardwaj, the co-founder IoTech World, said that the SBI will provide loans at the market rate to the customers of IoTech World Aviation without any mortgage, a 3 per cent concession in interest. This exemption will be given under the Government of India’s Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF).

Bhardwaj said that Agri-drones will prove a boon for India’s agriculture sector. The loan facility provided by SBI will prove to be very helpful for those farmers who were not able to buy drones due to a lack of institutional finance facilities.”

Anup Upadhyay, IoTech World Navigation co-founder said drones help in the optimum use of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture, thereby reducing the cost of farming. The use of agriculture-drone is not only helpful in increasing the yield, but also saves a lot of time. Agri-drones are going to prove a miracle for Indian agriculture. It is noteworthy that IoTech World Navigation was started in the year 2017. This company manufactures agricultural drones.

SBI will provide loans at the market

Consumers can view pesticide test reports for Superplum fruits and see the actual farm where their fruits were grown

Superplum, an agritech startup based out of Noida, recently launched a unique feature that allows consumers to scan a QR code and pay a bonus to the farmer who has grown the food they are eating. Consumers can already view pesticide test reports for Superplum fruits and see the actual farm where their fruits were grown.

All this is possible due to the company’s fully digitised and traceable supply chain that tracks every pack that the consumer receives. Superplum’s end-to-end digitised platform allows granular quality control and analysis of all products. The company works across 20 states and delivers over 20 fruits from the farm to retail stores. 

Shobhit Gupta, the CEO of Superplum, said, “From the outset, our system has been designed to benefit both consumers by getting better quality fruits and farmers by getting them a better share of consumer spending. We also work with farmers and support them to grow high-quality, safe fruits and reduce wastage through investment in cutting-edge technology and an innovative cold chain. If you love the fruits you are eating, it’s now easy to show your appreciation.”

Consumers can view pesticide test reports for

BioVeda is building an integrated full-stack Agri-tech platform to bring digital efficiency to the agriculture ecosystem. 

BioVeda Agro Ventures India’s first integrated online platform for farmers has recently secured an undisclosed amount of seed funding from India Accelerator’s Angel Investors’ network – iAngels. 

Incepted in February 2022, the Agri-tech platform brings a wide range of Agri- services for farmers to sell their Agri-produce, buy Agri-inputs and avail of credit facilities at lower interest rates on a single Digital Platform.


BioVeda plans to allocate the majority of funds to Business Expansion & Technology. 

Mahua Hazra, Co-founder & CEOof BioVeda Agro Ventures said, “We are delighted to have completed the seed funding round that will give us an impetus to seize the market opportunity & drive expansion. We are ready to dive into the fastest growing sector of Financial Inclusion and Rural E-Commerce. We believe that our business model will play a crucial role in easing the farmers’ access to better Credit facilities; Agri inputs supplies and help them obtain the best rates for their Agri-produce. We operate by the principle of Aggregation & we are confident that our Data Driven Farmer engagement will help in understanding the real needs of the Farmer and would eventually lead to empowering multiple industries through AI and our Predictive SCM. Most importantly, I am glad that we are able to generate Rural employment through incentive-based employment programs and are contributing towards Nation building.”

Commenting on the investment, Deepak Nagpal, Managing Partner & Business Head for iAgri (IA’s Agritech Vertical) said, “BioVeda is a fantastic example of inducing sustainable agriculture practices and super growth metrics in a very short span of time. With an increasing number of farmers looking to foster stable and continuous production, BioVeda’s integrated advanced Agri-tech platform will actually add moolah in the Farmer’s pocket. We have invested in the start-up with great zeal and we look forward to witnessing fast paced growth and profitability.”

Commenting on the growth strategy, Kaushik Dasgupta, Co-Founder & COOsaid; “BIOVEDA is backed by a strong team of founders, with a cumulative 120+ years of experience. India has 7 lakh+ villages and each village is an average business opportunity of INR 5-8 Cr annually. In a short span of 10 months, we have built a robust network of farmers in a select few states. We are currently working with 25 distributors, 300+ Kisan Mitras (VLEs) and over 25,000 Farmers, all digitally enabled. BioVeda aims to cover 10,000+ Villages and 1 million Farmers by the end of the next Financial Year. The right mix of technology and physical presence (Phygital Model) on the ground is the key to our fast-track growth.”

With mobile penetration at its peak, the data collection and automated verification that the company is doing at the root level for every farmer bring a huge set of opportunities, benefitting the FPOs ecosystem in the country as well. 

BioVeda is building an integrated full-stack Agri-tech

WWF report details how stakeholders are putting research into action and ramping up environment-friendly indoor farming.

The St. Louis region is positioned to become the global centre for innovation in indoor soilless agriculture thanks to a cooperative effort from dozens of experts over the past two years. This work, which aims to realise the full potential of a burgeoning industry while benefiting the local community, is detailed in a new report released today from World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Markets Institute.

Indoor soilless farming has great potential to supplement the US food system and help alleviate supply chain instability, food deserts, and the massive environmental impact of traditional farming. But to fulfil this potential and grow at an accelerated pace, the industry must address several challenges including high energy footprints, affordability, and expanding beyond leafy greens. To that end, a St. Louis-based coalition of more than 70 professionals from varying industries has worked to establish a centralised base of knowledge and best practices and lay the groundwork for a new indoor farm where innovative ideas can be put to the test.

“These past few years we’re seen in the US just how fragile our current food system really is,” said Julia Kurnik, director of innovation startups at WWF’s Markets Institute. “We need new food solutions that don’t put additional pressure on nature and climate, and indoor agriculture is one with enormous potential. We’ve dedicated a lot of effort into figuring out how to accelerate the indoor farming industry in a sustainable way, and it’s so gratifying to see that research come to life in the St. Louis region.”

The St. Louis region was identified as the ideal base for these endeavours in a 2020 WWF analysis due to its unrivalled relevant science expertise in plant science, agtech, and bioscience, along with strong potential partners including universities, foundations, and grocery chains. There is plenty of unused or under-utilised infrastructure and capital assets that could be repurposed for or integrated with indoor farms to lower the environmental impact of the facilities. There is also an opportunity to benefit local communities by producing healthy food year-round in urban settings while also creating job opportunities requiring little or no previous experience.

WWF report details how stakeholders are putting

With the DGCA certificate, AG 365 drone is now eligible for Rs 10 lakh unsecured loans from the AIF

India’s leading drone manufacturer, Marut Drones’ has received the Type Certification approvals from the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for its tested and robustly designed multi-utility agricultural drone AG 365. “AG 365 is designed and developed for Indian conditions and can be used for multiple purposes giving a higher ROI to the user. AG 365 is extensively tested for more than 1.5 lakh acres and optimised for performance to be used in agriculture. Further, extensive research is undergone with AG 365 for development of crop-specific drone spraying SOPs in collaboration with agricultural universities and research institutes,” the drone manufacturer said.

Having been awarded a type certificate for AG 365 model, the drone is now eligible for INR 10 lakh unsecured loans from the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) at a minimal 5-6 per cent interest rate. Further, a 50-100 per cent subsidy can be availed from the Government of India. The made-in-India Kisan Drone – AG 365 has been developed particularly for agricultural purposes to reduce crop loss, lower agrochemical usage, better yield and profits to the farmers, the company said.

With the DGCA certificate, AG 365 drone