Agriculture Will Continue To Be The Backbone Of Indian Economy: Rajesh Aggarwal, MD, Insecticides India Ltd.

By  Prabodh Krishna

We must have a holistic, environmentally safe crop protection and crop health solutions for the overall wellbeing of Indian agriculture and millions of our farmers

There are very few domestic groups having neck to neck competition in globally competitive crop protection market of India. Insecticides India Ltd. is one amongst them, Rajesh Aggarwal Managing Director of the group opens up his ideas about agrochemical market of India.

There is continuous international pressure for a fix residue level in crops. Will it hurt pesticide industry?   

The level of pesticides in agricultural produce considered safe for consumption is defined as maximum residue limits (MRLs). The MRL values are dependent on crop and climate conditions and vary accordingly. We do not see MRLs set by the European Commission (EC), WHO and Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of India as a hindrance. The MRL fixation at the time of product registrations in India is done by the registration authorities. We would rather see it positive light. We take it as a broadening of avenues of exports for the farming community. Most of the new generation products have low or negligible residue. We at Insecticides (India) Limited (IIL) believe that crop protection is not just about crop protection. We must have a holistic, environmentally safe crop protection and crop health solutions for the overall wellbeing of Indian agriculture and millions of our farmers.

Our pesticide consumption is still very low in percentage but it is excessive in many of the areas, your remarks? 

Yes, India’s average consumption of pesticides is very low compared to the rest of the world.

But you will be surprised by the fact that India is the second largest in global agriculture production but 11th in the pesticide consumption. The usage of the agro-chemicals is beyond the control of manufacturers. We, as an Industry, continuously work very hard to educate farmers along with practical field demonstrations.

Multinational Agrochemical groups are continuously investing hefty amounts in R&D, is this difficult for Indian corporates to convince investors for investment in R&D? 

Producing world-class end products and new formulations is possible only through technological intervention and intensive research. Most Indian companies spend only one or two per cent of their revenues in research and development as against their global counterparts who invest about 8-10 per cent. We need to scale up our R&D for innovation of highly potential bio-chemicals, fertilizers and crop regulators suited to local agricultural conditions and to establish a strong presence in the global market.

Having said that, I would like to mention that IIL is one of the few Indian companies actively working in this field. We have dedicated R&D departments at four different locations which are constantly working on new molecule invention, new formulations, and biological products.

Training part among farmers’ is a key for avoiding an evil impression for agrochemical groups in masses, why not investing in ‘how to use’ (training) so that ‘This much to use’ (sales) will become rather easy?

Almost all companies in the domain have been training the farmers on the safe and judicious use of agrochemicals. Even CCFI (Crop Care Federation of India), the association of Indian Agrochemical manufacturers have been very actively working on this and organizing a workshop for the same. Krishi melas (agricultural fairs) are great platforms for farmer awareness where agricultural experts and scientists offer progressive farm training to cultivators and educate them on soil fertility management and judicious use of agrochemicals. Companies like IIL, through their CSR wing, work closely with farmers to help them with the best agricultural techniques and methods and train them to increase their yield.

What will be the market share IIL is eyeing in the FY2018-19?

We plan to launch some new products this year so we believe that our market share will increase for sure. In recent years, IIL has aggressively expanded its product bouquet, adding a variety of new products to its list of bestselling brands Pulsor, Hakama, Green Label, Kayakalp, Lethal, Victor, Thimet and Monocil etc.

Will it be possible for IIL to venture in precision pesticides (ultra-modern chemicals effective on a particular symptom only)? 

Most of our new products launched in last few years are basically precision products and are target and activity specific. We are working in the direction of new product invention also.

Our objective is to provide the latest technology product within the reach of the common and marginal farmer.

Herbal-Insecticide may be USP for the nation. Do you think it’s possible or this is merely a trend?

So far as per the products available in the market, their activity has not been observed as required by the farmer and they are used in conjunction with the agrochemicals. There is a need for a proper product mix for different crops which should include organic as well as chemical products. At IIL we have started a separate wing for biological products along with the separate R&D department for it. Some years ago we’ve launched Mycoraja, as the first bioproduct. Recently, the company introduced in India a new postemergence herbicide Green Label (a Japanese-origin product) manufactured in India for the first time using advanced technology, making the product available to Indian farmers at a much cheaper price. Also, we have recently launched products like Kayakalp and Root Bead which are biological in nature and have shown good results in soil and crop productivity.

Agriculture is no more primary choice of profession (even in rural parts). Do you ever feel the need for diversifying your business to non-agriculture areas? 

We are focusing on agriculture with the new technology at our group. Today there are new cropping options available. Agriculture will continue to be the backbone of the Indian economy for years to come and we are committed to contributing in the same. The government is aggressively pursuing a farmer-centric development approach with bottom-up planning to achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ income over the next five years. This will hopefully give agriculture industry a new momentum.

Source: BW Businessworld

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