Agrochemicals industry stresses on faster adoption of global standards

Crop protection industry, scientists and regulators brainstorm to create a better framework for the Indian regulatory environment in line with directives of the FAO and WHO International Code of conduct.
Agrochemicals industry stresses on faster adoption of global standards

CropLife India, the leading crop protection association representing Indian and global companies in the country, organised a two-day workshop on ‘Equivalence Procedure and Data Bridging Concepts for Registration of Crop Protection Products’ to enable adoption of globally approved best practices for the Indian agriculture industry.

This event saw leading national and global experts, from various fields such as agriculture scientists, toxicologists, medical specialists, chemists, academicians, officials from Ministry of Agriculture, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and regulators of Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee (CIB&RC). The workshop was aimed to drive better and faster adoption of global standards in the Indian regulatory environment to help more effective registration of crop protection products considering various chemical and toxicological profiles to promote good agricultural practices, to be adaptable to the 18 Agro-climatic zones in the country.

Enabling faster registration of safer and greener crop protection products is believed to help quality manufacturing processes, thus creating farmer access to safer and greener technologies in the country. Indian farmers lose 20-30 per cent of its agricultural output, with crops valued at above Rs 40,000 crore every year to weeds, pests, insects and diseases.

Some of the significant forward looking regulations that were discussed during the meeting included harmonisation with OECD protocols in major disciplines, crop grouping concept, minor changes regulation to enable innovation at a faster pace. CropLife India in its continuous engagement efforts has organised policy workshops in collaboration with regulators and policy makers that has paved the way towards progressive regulations in the country, Crop Grouping principles of Residue data generation and MRL (Maximum Residual Levels) setting for manufacturing of crop protection products in the country.

Dr JS Sandhu, DDG, ICAR (Crop Science & Chairman of the Registration Committee), while inaugurating the workshop said, “Such workshops help us interact with Global regulatory systems while helping us to make the Make in India concept stronger for crop protection products such as pesticides and agrochemicals in the country. It is always good to generate ideas and adopt the best.”

“Crop protection is not just about using chemicals to manage pests – we must have holistic, environmentally safe greener crop protection and crop health solutions”, said Sarjiwan Manhas, Vice Chairman, CropLife India and Head – Research and Development, South Asia Syngenta India.

The way forward for the Indian crop protection industry, valued at US$ 4.2 Billion would be to concentrate on delivering specialty formulation, develop regulatory capacity and regulatory data development apart from market research for enhancing reach and distribution of the industry. The agrochemical sector faces multiple challenges but with collaborative work between various stakeholders can facilitate India becoming a global manufacturing hub of quality crop protection solutions and adopt best practices to increase the country’s agricultural productivity while making it a food and nutrition secured nation.

Regulatory Guidelines

The approval and use of commercial crop protection products in all contexts is highly regulated all over the world, including India. Strengthening the existing guidelines enables supporting both the domestic industry as well as International players to ensure farmers have the best choice of products and latest innovations at par with farmers across the world. Progressive regulations indicate there is an urgent need to reduce timelines of regulatory protocols.

“CropLife India and its members of both Indian bred and global companies has been at the forefront to strengthen domestic manufacturing. The Indian regulatory system concerning the Crop Protection Industry which is very robust and knowledgeable has adopted the OECD guidelines which is a step towards global acceptance of regulatory norms.”, said Dr Vasant Patil-Director Scientific & Regulatory Affairs- CropLife Asia.

Global MNCs invest about 8-10 per cent of their revenues in Research & Development, while Indian bred crop protection manufacturers spend 1-2 per cent of their revenues in R&D, which makes them less competitive to compete in the global market in developing specialty molecules. Ease of introduction of latest pest control solution technology is the key to some of the challenges faced by Indian farmers like spurious products, low focus on R&D by domestic manufacturers, inefficiencies in the supply chain etc. which need to be addressed on priority.

Discovery of new molecules is a highly specialised R&D activity- it is significant to note that, on an average, only one molecule out of 100,000 screened chemical compounds gets finally identified and selected, for full development while going through the rigorous R&D process and Regulatory approvals. From discovery in the labs to the introduction at a country regulatory level, it takes more than 8-10 years and involves an investment of more than Rs 1,600 crores. Further, in India to provide access at the farm level, the product must undergo 3-4 years of stringent evaluation on efficacy, safety, MRLs and other parameters as per guidelines established by Central Insecticide Board & Registration Committee and another 1-2 years for review of data and final registration approval. 

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