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ITC relies on its farmer advice app, value added crops to grow its agri business

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  • ITC believes that the Indian agricultural sector is “seriously threatened” by climate change and needs attention.
  • It adopted a multi-track strategy to meet the challenges while increasing its profitability.
  • The company’s advice app for farmers, called Maars, plays a major role.

India’s agricultural sector is “seriously” threatened by climate change and population explosion, and this calls for higher production levels, said ITC chairman and MD Sanjiv Puri. That said, ITC has adopted a multi-pronged strategy to face the challenges of the Indian agricultural sector.

ITC believes that a strategic focus on value-added crops, the advice app for farmers ITC MAARS and climate-smart agriculture will drive new vectors to support growth and profitability in this area. Notably, ITC’s agribusiness sources more than 40 lakh tons of agro commodities from 22 Indian states and 20 agri value chains.

It also exports to more than 95 countries around the world.

In an annual general meeting held Wednesday morning, Puri stressed that agricultural productivity and incomes are today seriously threatened by climate change and depletion of natural resources. The rising population has exacerbated the problem as the demand for food increases.

“ITC is committed to making a meaningful contribution to this new era of agricultural transformation,” Puri added at the AGM. ITC believes that the current situation calls for higher production levels, building competitive agricultural value chains, crop diversification into value-added products and scaling up food processing to meet new consumer needs.

ITC’s MAARS app for farmers plays a major role in this

To meet the target, the company will focus on accelerating the adoption of advanced technologies through ITC MAARS. This will enable ITC to create a new and scalable revenue stream and benefit farmers, emphasizes Puri.

A few months ago, ITC launched the MAARS app to provide farmers with artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) based personalized and hyperlocal crop advice. It also provides access to high-quality inputs and market couplings, as well as related services such as pre-approved loans.

Puri added that the app has the potential to become a “significant segment” of ITC’s agribusiness, and is currently accessible to 40,000 farmers grouped in more than 200 Farmers Producer Organizations (FPO) in seven states.

“At its core, your company’s drive is to restructure the backend into a robust network of vibrant FPOs to pool farmers’ efforts and improve efficiencies,” he said. ITC aims to engage and empower 4,000 FPOs comprising one crore farmer over time.

Puri stressed that while nearly half of the country’s workforce is dependent on the agricultural sector, it contributes to less than 19% of the country’s gross value added (GVA). This reflects the challenges of low productivity, investment and incomes.

“The opportunities arising from India’s growth story have also encouraged us to invest in five new production facilities that will be commissioned shortly in areas such as agri-food processing, as well as packaging. These assets align closely with the country’s ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ visions, as well as efforts to double farmers’ incomes,” Puri said.


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