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Food Innovation Hubs

  • IASbaba
  • October 7, 2022
  • 0
Economics, Governance
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Context: Recently the World Economic Forum (WEF) is bringing together a network called ‘Food Innovation Hubs’.

What are Food Innovation Hubs?

  • Food Innovation Hubs are a multistakeholder, precompetitive and market-based partnership platform
  • These platforms will leverage the role of technology and broader innovations in support of a transformation agenda.
    • It will lead to more inclusive, efficient, sustainable, nutritious, and healthy food systems.
  • The Food Innovation Hubs are founded by partners from governments, private sector, innovators, entrepreneurs, farmer organizations, civil society, international organizations and others.
  • The Hubs are designed locally to address the needs of the local food system to
    • Foster and cultivate food systems innovation
    • Support delivery and adoption of innovations at scale
    • Develop a community of practice to share learnings and build capacity

Promoting innovations

  • The first hub in India is being set up in Madhya Pradesh under a collaboration agreement between the WEF and Madhya Pradesh government.
  • The hub which is based on agricultural development will promote innovations in alignment with tenets of the AatmaNirbharta.
  • The Food Innovation Hub in India aspires to enable a mechanism that can strengthen local innovation ecosystems and address needs across the food value chains using technology and innovation.

Setting up and operating FIHs:

  • Any hub is set up with close cooperation of local government and private sectors to meet its goals.
  • There is no direct funding from the WEF for initiating projects under the hub.
  • The hub enables the Public Private Partnership (PPPs) by roping in aggrotech companies and linking them with government agencies such as Krishi Vigyan Kendra’s etc.
  • The innovation hubs depend on one another for knowledge exchange with a Global Coordinating Secretariat in Holland.
  • It ensures that every hub is functioning as per global objectives, besides acting as a stimulant.

Proof of concept is essential:

  • Any FIH will proceed only after the firms involved create a proof of concept with the government.
    • Madhya Pradesh was chosen for initiating the hub’s work as it was open to exploring opportunities transparently and collaboratively.
  • Various aggrotech firms can be part of a project providing a variety of cutting-edge solutions
    • Pledge financing through fintech modalities
    • Using spectrometers to perform quality assaying
    • Using remote sensing to providing advisories
    • Facilitating efficient crop insurance.
  • Besides aggrotech firms, not-for-profit companies are also involved to enhance the reach and credibility of digital innovations at the last mile.

What are the focus areas of the FIHs?

  • The Food Innovation Hubs will focus on many facets of food processing and agriculture such as
    • New age digital agriculture
    • Innovations in regenerative farming
    • New age agro-ecological solutions.
  • It will look at several modern and traditional models to address climate resilience.
  • It looks at upcoming innovations in carbon offsets whose implementation is critical to providing financial incentives to the farmers to grow more sustainably.

Leveraging Carbon credits:

  • The carbon credit market is becoming big globally and India can benefit with a well thought out execution plan.
  • There are existing firms and new ones who run business operations that aim to pass on the benefits of protecting ecosystem services to farmers
  • Other new age innovations include the usage of targeted soil and crop management through drones.
    • Spraying of bio-chemicals on fresh produce that may enhance shelf life and thus arrest food loss.
  • These are conducive to the environment and support nutrition and health in the long term.
  • The initiative aims to facilitate pilot projects to validate and test innovations, particularly by aggrotech companies, and support them in achieving scale and amplification in the future.

Way Forward:

  • The FIHs can be financed through unconventional sources such as philanthropic funds.
  • These funds are looking to unlock the PPPs by
    • Providing initial funding, particularly in achieving proof of concepts.
    • Philanthropic partners are an integral part of initiating and accelerating ecosystem transformation
  • A growing set of global players from the private and public sector drive and support this exciting initiative.
  • Once India’s Food Innovation Hub builds a solid ground in the targeted places it will be a game changer for leveraging agriculture sector

Therefore, its successful implementation presents opportunities which can be carried out in other states such as Odisha, Bihar and Meghalaya etc.

About World Economic Forum:

  • The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a non-profit foundation.
  • It was established in 1971 and is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It is recognized by the Swiss authorities as the international institution for public-private cooperation.

Mission:

  • It is committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.

Some major reports published by WEF are:

  • Global Gender Gap Report.
  • Global Risk Report.
  • Energy Transition Index.
  • Global Competitiveness Report.
  • Global IT Report
  • Global Travel and Tourism Report.

Source:  The Hindu

 

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