Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW) have come together to promote innovation in the agricultural sector among school students across India. The two government bodies have agreed to connect Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) with Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs) and Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMAs) under the initiative.
The collaboration is a result of the vision of the Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi who seeded this idea during a conversation and proposed to connect the ATLs with the KVKs across the country. The Prime Minister also suggested both the government bodies to look into the idea of linking soil testing labs to ATL schools.
KVKs function as a “Single Window Agricultural Knowledge Resource and Capacity Development Centre,” and this collaboration will provide numerous stakeholders with necessary information, training, and inputs. KVKs, in partnership with ATMA, will collaborate with nearby ATLs to support agricultural-related innovation.
During the first phase of the implementation, one KVK under each of the 11 Agricultural Technology Application Research Institutes (ATARIs) will be involved, providing technology backstopping and facilitating knowledge-sharing and skill-building exercises. KVK experts will also undertake need-based visits to nearby ATLs, while KVKs will provide literature, seeds, planting materials, and other inputs as required. The pilot project will be extended after assessing the positive outcomes after two years.
Speaking during the event, Mission Director Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, Dr. Chintan Vaishnav said, “In my mind this step is going to be a giant leap towards boosting agriculture innovations in India. There are two aspects of this collaboration that are worth replicating across many sectors. First, the idea of linking the existing government platforms with a purpose. For example, public health centers and ATLs could be linked similarly for better healthcare and so on. Secondly, linking children, the most important change-makers of society to the real, most important challenges, and opportunities.” He said.
He further said that both AIM and MoA&FW are also mulling to create a quarterly showcase at MoA&FW where a stream of Agri-student innovators would be felicitated by Atal Innovation Mission.
He informed that AIM has mapped and shared a list of 55 ATLs (mapping each of the 11 KVKs, ATMAs with up-to 5 ATLs) based on the list of KVKs and ATMAs shared by MoA&FW.
Addressing the gathering, Secretary, DA&FW, MoA&FW Manoj Ahuja spoke about the potential of this collaboration to address the various challenges of Agriculture. He further added that under this framework, MoA&FW and ATL can develop a problem finding platform and organise hackathons. He stressed the need for adopting an “integrated learning approach” to find solutions to the problems of farm sector.
To familiarize MoA&FW officials with the Atal Tinkering Labs initiative, a school visit was conducted on April 12th, 2023. A delegation from MoA&FW visited the ATL lab at Amity International School, Saket, Delhi, where they had an opportunity to witness innovations made by young school students from various sectors which included agriculture related innovations. A similar visit is planned for ICAR in the last week of April, 2023.
This collaboration between AIM and MoA&FW is a significant milestone towards the growth and development of the agricultural sector in India and Atal Innovation Mission is committed to continue its efforts towards fostering innovation and creativity among the youth of the country.
Meanwhile, young student innovators from the ATL schools KV Janakpuri, DAV Vasant Kunj and Amity International School also shared their ATL experiences and spoke about their innovations in agriculture sector.