‘DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge’ invites entrepreneurs to solve water security of small farmers

DCM Shriram and The/Nudge Institute Center for Social Innovation have set up a challenge to award ₹ 2.6 crore agrotechnology and social impact entrepreneurs to develop population level solutions and innovations within the agro-water ecosystem in India.

Aiming to foster innovation at the intersection of agriculture and efficient water use, the challenge seeks to encourage entrepreneurs to develop solutions with a massive impact on stagnant livelihood opportunities, especially for small farmers, according to a statement from the Nudge Institute released on Tuesday.

He pointed out that although 80 percent of groundwater in India is used in agriculture, up to 60 percent of it is considered inefficient use, but unbalanced practices in the use of nutrients and fertilizers have led to imbalance and soil degradation. “Water scarcity, unwise use of freshwater resources, unsustainable farming practices and over-reliance on erratic rainfall and climate change threaten the state of India’s agricultural sector,” she added.


The DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge includes a prize of Rs. 2 crore for the winner in sustainable agricultural interventions. In addition, ₹60 lakh will be distributed among the other top three finalists – ₹30 lakh for the first finalist, ₹20 lakh for the second and ₹10 lakh for the third.

“Any effort aimed at large-scale water conservation must be closely aligned with the needs of agriculture. Such a program must navigate a complex web of factors, including weather conditions, crop and cultivar selection, potential yields, crop water requirements, and crop resources. available irrigation, water-saving techniques, farming practices, agricultural extension services, access to agricultural inputs, availability of electricity, and many other variables,” said Aman Banu, President of DCM Shriram.

She also said that political changes affecting the pricing of agricultural inputs and products must also be taken into consideration. She added that the challenge calls for technology-based agricultural start-ups and social entrepreneurs to innovate and provide concrete solutions to this complex problem that specifically focus on scalability for smallholder farmers.

said Kanishka Chatterjee, Director of The Pay Award. He added that the heavy dependence on groundwater, increased exposure to water stress/climate changes, land productivity, price and market risks required a bold problem-solving for small-scale farmers.

Challenge organizers expect 15-20 exceptional solutions from a large pool of applicants, who are working to improve agricultural water use, especially for water-intensive crops such as rice, wheat, sugarcane and cotton. The selected group will be mentored and supported for 12 months by a panel of advisors that includes agricultural investors, policy makers, academics and thought leaders from DCM Shriram, RICH Telangana, MANAGE, SocialAlpha, TISS, Acumen, ThinkAg and the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute.