Nimble Agriculture: Challenge Track at Design Public IV

‘Nimble Agriculture’ is a concept CKS developed in response to the challenges of small and marginalized farmers (those with land under 2 hectares). The term refers to agriculture that is smart, light and agile: smart in its use of resources, light in its impact on the environment, and agile in its ability to rapidly respond to different market and environmental stresses. While most organizations tend to focus on very specific elements of agricultural production, our approach is to look at the entire range of agricultural services from the point of view of the small farmer. This includes ensuring access to seed, fertilizer, irrigation techniques, automation processes, mobile device integration, market information and more.

The discussion will span questions like: What are the unsolved challenges of the agriculture sector in India, especially with respect to small and marginal farmers? How can design and innovation help solve those challenges and create a more enabling and supportive ecology for small farmers? What new kinds of engagement models can we imagine that would help create this supportive ecology?

The discussion will be led by several experts who have been working in the agriculture sector with a special focus on small and marginal farmers. Anirban Ghosh of the Mahindra Group will present a private sector perspective on its approach to agriculture, as Mahindra agribusiness has been focusing on a range of issues within this sector and supports farmers at every stage of farmers. Siddharth Tata of the Acumen Fund works to develop the Fund’s agriculture portfolio in India, and will bring an innovation perspective to the conversation based on his various experiences working with McKinsey Consulting and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Mark Kahn of Godrej Agrovet will also bring various insights about the power of entrepreneurship and innovation within this sector, being a venture partner in Omnivore Capital, a venture fund investing in agricultural technology (“agtech”) startups in India. Punit Gupta, Country Director of TechnoServe, has been working on creating business solutions to fight poverty across a range of sectors including agriculture. Finally, Neha Ahlawat, Director of Innovation at CKS, will bring in design and user-centered innovation perspective to the conversation.

About Ayesha Vemuri

Ayesha Vemuri is responsible for thought leadership and outreach efforts at CKS. She has undergraduate degree in Visual Art from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she also studied such varied subjects as biology, literature and the humanities. At CKS, she is responsible for curating the Design Public blog, managing our various social media platforms, organizing Pecha Kucha Nights and contributing to the intellectual content of the Design Public Conclave and other CKS initiatives. Find her on twitter at @ayeshavemuri.
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