Srinagar: Vice Chancellor, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir, Prof Nazir Ahmad Ganai, Tuesday said the varsity is coming up with a state-of-the-art facility for the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship in food processing and agri-business.
The first of its kind in J&K, Discovery Centre will house incubation facilities, AI&ML Centre, IoT Lab and all other facilities required for digital agriculture and smart agri-businesses and food processing, he said. He added that the facility would be ready in the next 3-4 months.
The vice chancellor was speaking during the inaugural function of the 14-day food technology workshop titled, “Advanced Skill Enhancement in the Development and Quality Characterization of Functional Foods using Extrusion Technology”. More than 25 MSc, MTech and PhD students from various universities of J&K are participating in the workshop organised by the SKUAST-K’s Division of Food Sciences and Technology under GoI’s Karyashalla scheme of Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), DST.
Dr Ganai further said the facility won’t be just a physical infrastructure rather it would include everything that an innovative idea or a startup needs from an incubation facility, to seed capital, to handholding and technical support. SKUAST-K is the first among 74 state agricultural universities in the country which has its own innovation and startup policy (SISP), which allows students and faculty members to start their own business but must have roots in their research, innovation or startup idea.
SKUAST-K wants to create an ecosystem like the IITs of the country, where you are able to develop your idea or concept into a product, process or Technology, he said. The university has already entered into collaboration with IIT Kanpur and is in process of signing MoUs with IITs Kharagpur and other top-notch institutions of the country and abroad.
Elucidating on the workshop theme, he said food processing is a fast-moving agri-business in India due to rising income and changing lifestyle of people, who are ready to spend more on quality as well as ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook food.
Talking about the food processing opportunities in the UT, he said J&K has a distinct advantage as it produces fruits and other Agri products which are not found in the rest of the country. He said processing and value addition of the local niche produce with an enhanced supply chain will provide it with a market of 1.4 billion people. However, he stressed branding and proper labelling for fetching a better price.
He asked the trainees to use the workshop as an opportunity for developing their startup and business ideas.