ITCMAARS will be a gamechanger for NextGeneration Agriculture: Sanjiv Puri


The ITC Next strategy seeks to harness this potential and address the imperatives of fostering demand-responsive agriculture, accelerating value-addition, enhancing productivity, quality and farm incomes, strengthening competitiveness and tackling vulnerabilities arising from climate risks, Puri said.

The purposeful policy thrust of the government to accelerate digital adoption in the farm sector and promote Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) are laudable steps to engender transformation in the agri-sector. These far-reaching policy interventions have enabled ITC to bring the power of digital revolution to farmers with FPOs as the pivot. ITCMAARS, the phygital ecosystem that ITC launched last year, is poised to be a game changing catalyst to usher in Next Generation Agriculture, he added.

“This new business model enables larger efficiencies in sourcing, higher value addition and better traceability of attribute-specific products, besides promoting sustainable agriculture. ITCMAARS has been rapidly expanded to nine states, supporting more than 6,00,000 farmers through 1,150 FPOs. ITC’s aspiration is to support 4,000 FPOs by 2030, stepping up farmer empowerment from 4 million to 10 million. As the ITCMAARS ecosystem scales up, it will strengthen the competitiveness of the Foods and Agri Businesses, and create a new business model whilst empowering farmers,” Puri said.

ITC’s CSA programme is de-risking farmers from extreme weather events, he added.

ITC’s Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) programme aims to de-risk farmers from extreme weather events. Multiple initiatives have been taken to promote regenerative agriculture with a package of agronomy practices, high-yielding and climate-resilient varieties as well as appropriate mechanisation. Today, the programme has already covered over 2.3 million acres, against the target of 3 million acres, benefiting more than 7,40,000 farmers. It is encouraging to note from an assessment of the first phase of CSA districts that GHG emissions of selected crops reduced between 13-66 per cent and net returns to farmers increased by 46-93 per cent. Also, 70 per cent of the villages have moved into the High-Resilience, High-Yield category, Puri said.

A key opportunity area in the agri-sector is horticulture given the potential for value addition, exports and higher farmer incomes. This segment contributes around 30 per cent to Agri GDP while using only 13 per cent of the gross cropped area. ITC’s Agri Business is building on its portfolio of Value-Added Products across multiple value chains including spices, coffee, frozen marine products, processed fruits and organic produce, he said.

The Business is also gearing up for a full play in Medicinal and Aromatic Plants.

This year, ITC set up a state-of-the-art export-oriented spices facility in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. This plant, together with the Integrated Crop Management programme of ITC, initiated in partnership with various state governments, will provide formidable competitiveness, support agri value chains, whilst empowering farmers.

In addition, ITC’s subsidiary, ITC IndiVision Limited has recently commissioned a world-class facility for the manufacture and export of nicotine and nicotine derivative products, conforming to stringent US and EU Pharmacopoeia standards.

This plant, equipped with sophisticated technology draws strength from the deep engagement with tobacco farmers enabling traceability, consistency and superior sustainability practices lending a competitive edge in the global market, Puri added.

“Today, ITC is the largest procurer of agri-commodities in the private sector, sourcing 4.5 million tonnes across 20 value chains in 22 states, placing it in a unique position to make a meaningful difference to rural transformation and farmer empowerment. The multidimensional initiatives of ITC build resilience and competitiveness of inclusive value chains and deepen digital adoption, thus benefitting millions of farmers. ITC’s world-class FMCG brands anchor several agri value chains contributing to rural transformation and national priorities. We believe our efforts will usher in a new dimension of agricultural progress, benefitting farmers whilst providing significant competitive advantage to ITC’s businesses,” he said.

Puri said agriculture assumes even more significance as we envision a future with nearly 10 billion people on this planet by 2050, requiring a massive 70 per cent increase in food production. The agri sector has the onerous task of providing for food, bio-energy and livelihood security, even as climate change causes more vulnerability. Nearly half of India’s workforce is dependent on this sector, which faces challenges of low productivity and incomes. Consequently, there is an urgent need for a new developmental paradigm for this sector.

India is well endowed as the second highest agri-producer in the world, with the largest arable land and diverse agro-climatic zones. Yet, agriculture accounts for just 18 per cent of GVA with only 3 per cent share of global trade and less than 10 per cent share of processed produce. However, there is tremendous untapped growth potential through vertical scale-up, value addition and larger integration to global markets, with consequent large-scale rural transformation, he said.



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