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Public -Private-Partnership could do wonders for agriculture: MK Dhanuka

In an ‘exclusive’ with Mohd Mustaquim, MK Dhanuka, Managing Director of Dhanuka Agritech, describes his journey, vision and view for the company,  pesticide industry and agriculture sector


MK Dhanuka, Managing Director, Dhanuka Agritech
MK Dhanuka
Managing Director, Dhanuka Agritech
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Dhanuka Agritech Ltd. has established its name as a prominent company in Agrochemicals industry in India. The group has been instrumental in providing crop specific, eco-friendly high quality crop care products. The company is involved in development, manufacturing and marketing of quality, eco-friendly pesticides in most modern and sophisticated units from last 26 years and operates its seed division since 2003 at Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
In an ‘exclusive’ with Mohd Mustaquim, MK Dhanuka, Managing Director of Dhanuka Agritech, describes his journey, vision and view for the company,  pesticide industry and agriculture sector...

Excerpts:

Tell us what according to you has been the state of affairs in Indian agriculture of late ?
India with 142 million hectares, produced a meager 257 million tonnes of food grain during the current harvesting season while China with less arable land (128 million hectares) harvested 500 million tonnes. It points out that we are not doing the right thing so far agriculture is concerned.

We have to address issues like small landholding, illiteracy and least mechanisation of agriculture etc in order to be able to feed our ever growing population. We add two crores in our stock every year where as the growth in food grain production is negligible. About 65 per cent of workforce depend on agriculture, while USA produce more with only 3percent of its people engaged in it with equal arable land. We lag behind in adopting modern technology in farming and we need to alter this state affairs for sustainable development.

Could India match with the Chinese in agricultural output?
We have to graduate to co-operative farming with use of heavy machines and every individual farmer is made the stake holder, it is not possible with fragmented landholding.

But I doubt that it would happen in India so soon. More than 60 per cent of our arable land is rain fed, we have to create irrigation infrastructure in place. This time around we had weaker and delayed Monsoon, states like Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat were affected badly. We have to inculcate the habit of water conservation all across and about rain water harvesting. We at Dhanuka, runs awareness programme everywhere, distribute literature, leaflets and disseminate information.

How technology could help in bringing second green revolution in India?
The firstly, soil texture need to be tested before the use of fertilizer in India. What we usually do, we put Urea, or some other product at randomly, this is not the scientific way of doing things . We lead by example, as we adopted Hoshangaband district In Madhya Pradesh, in the year 2001. The MP government handed over their soil testing laboratory to our company. The field promotion activities are done jointly by Dhanuka with government machinery. In three years, the productivity was enhanced by 30 per cent in this district. This project got the first award from the National Productivity Council, Government of India. So, such kind of initiatives should be taken everywhere in the country. Lot of state governments are also approaching us that we should start this kind of projects in their respective states. The PPP model should be replicated across the country. Our dealers do collect soil samples in the district. We are having around 100 dealers in that district. The farmers also could deposit their soil samples at our dealers. Out staff collect soil samples on a weekly basis.

We analyse soil texture and then recommend the composition of fertilisers. Use the fertiliser to enhance the fertility of the soil. The whole process takes approximately 15 days. We just charge a nominal cost of Rs. 5 per sample from the farmers. We collect samples from all for corners of the plot on the scientific basis, then mix and analyse it. We help farmers in differentiating between the grain and seeds. Using grain as seeds is also a reason for law productivity. Third thing, as per a data, annually, the grains are damaged to the tune of Rs. 100,000 Cr because of the diseases. Moreover, the pesticide industry is of worth Rs 10,000 Cr only. As per the information, hardly 35 per cent of farmers are using pesticides. In the interior areas, 65 per cent farmers are not using pesticides at all. That is a major reason of such heavy loses of crops. If farmers use pesticides judiciously, we could save crops of around Rs. 50,000 Cr. That will be a big achievement.

If 65 percent of farmers are not using pesticides, do you see lack of awareness programmes for pesticide usage as a reason for it?
Although the government is trying hard and spending money and releasing budget, give training and education to the farmers, but is has just a little impact on ground level. The implementation is a major problem. It should actually be a PPP programme. A company has its own limitation, we are having around 1500 B.Sc, M.Sc graduates, they are called Dhanuka Doctors and their job is not to sell the products. Their job is to give training to the farmers. They are doing yield demonstration in the villages. They are involving themselves from sowing to harvesting. That kind of promotional activities we are doing. India is having more than 600,000 villages; A single company cannot do that, it should be a public private partnership, and the entire industry should chip in.

What are the stumbling blocks do you see in this sector?
The major problems we discussed about the irrigation facilities, less usage of pesticides. According to a university data, India is the least pesticide consuming country in the world as the consumption is hardly 500 gm per hectare. And highest in Taiwan, around 70 kg, Japan 11 Kg, US and all developed European countries are consuming 10 times that of India. Basically, these are the roadblocks and from the government’s point of view, the Public-Private-Partnership should be adopted. At the grassroots level, the training of the farmers needs to be done.

As other agri- inputs , pesticides should also be exempted from the excise and sale tax. That would lower the input cost to the farmers and they would be inclined to use of pesticides.

What are the basic reason that inhibits pulses and oilseeds production and we still depend largely on imports?
The cost of the production of the farmer is not viable for the farmers. Because, sometimes when he goes to sell the crops in the market, the middlemen take away the major profit share. The farmers should get the input on reasonable price and consumer can get the product on right price. It can only be possible by minimising the middlemen’s role. You will be shocked, when you see, sometimes farmers throw away the crop because he is not able to bear the cost of even bringing it to the market.

What are the way outs do you see to tackle these kinds of situations?
We have to fix the logistics. Cold storage and road transport and others need to be at palce. Few good companies are playing good role and procuring the materials from the farmers. ITC Chaupal is doing good job, Reliance is also active in this field. Haryali Kisan Bazar is also doing good job. So the farmers are able to sell his crop on right price and they will remain with agriculture. Unfortunately, the land prices are shooting up in India. The farmers are basically not happy with farming, because he will be able to fetch more prices by selling his farm land and invest in another business. So to keep the interest of the farmers in agriculture, we have to pay them right price. Get reasonable income and continue their interest in agriculture. Few farmers are very reach, in Punjab and Haryana; they have huge acreages of land, 100 to 200 acres. They get their work done by the labourers.

What are your future plans you are going to announce in the coming days?
Our Company’s main thrust is to bring more eco- friendly pesticides in India. No other Indian pesticide company is spending money on R&D. We have tied- up with two more international companies. And we will continue to bring new products to India with the help of these companies. We are focusing on water conservation, ‘Gaon ka paani gaon mein, khet ka paani khet mein’, this is our slogan. ‘Dhanuka kheti ki nayee technique’, this is another slogan. We are training to the farmers through multimedia in the village level. Our Dhanuka Doctors at the chaupal of the village, give training to the farmers in multimedia from sowing to harvesting. But as I told you has its limitations. It cannot reach the 75 crores of farmers of the country in more than six lakh villages. The government and the entire industry should also come up.

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