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BRIEF August 5, 2020

Disrupting Smallholder Farming in the State of Maharashtra

The Government of Maharashtra and the World Bank supported State of Maharashtra Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (SMART) project is set to get a boost of another US $1.86 million through the Korea - World Bank Partnership Facility (KWPF).

Together with the US $300 million SMART project, the KWPF grant is expected to develop inclusive and competitive agriculture value chains by piloting customized technology solutions and building institutional capacities in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The grant specifically aims to facilitate adoption of disruptive agriculture technologies amongst smallholders in the State of Maharashtra through product development, field pilots and knowledge exchanges.  

Approximately 80% of India’s farmers are smallholders at the lower end of income spectrum and tied to informal input and output markets. While there is increased recognition and accompanied investments of the private sector and the Government for leveraging technology as a pathway for agricultural transformation in the country, the solutions developed are either at a very low scale or for large farmers and agri-businesses.  Small-holder agriculture in India remains cut-off from disruptive technology-led transformation.

“The marriage of agtech start-ups and smallholders have not blossomed to the potential we hoped.  The KWPF grant will be the first of its kind where solutions will be co-developed by leveraging financial support and development experience from Korea at both the pilot and scaling-up stages. The opportunity to learn from and partner with South Korea, a country which has revived agriculture as a sector through digitization, is a cherry on the cake.” said Balakrishnan Madhavan Kutty, Lead for the initiative.

The KWPF grant, executed by the World Bank, will be focused on solutions towards: a) ensuring availability of localized market intelligence and crop advisories; b) building food chain traceability; c) increasing access to digital finance for informal Agri-entrepreneurs; and d) smart urban farming systems. Over one million farmer households are expected to benefit through this grant directly or indirectly in Maharashtra. The learnings from the grant will inform agriculture policymakers with a template on how to facilitate downstream technology-enabled disruption not just in Maharashtra but potentially in other client countries as well