India could be a manufacturing hub for the crop protection industry if local bred companies could collaborate with global crop protection technologies to develop crop protection farming solutions for Indian farmers, says CropLife India, the Cop protection association representing Indian and global companies in the country.
In future India could become a manufacturing hub for global companies blending global technologies with local needs, following best business practices, keeping in tune with the government’s “Make in India” concept. India has 18 Agro-climatic zones with multiple crops with farmers facing multiple challenges of 15-25 per cent potential crop loss due to pests, diseases, insects, weeds, water shortages, irregular irrigation facilities, shortage of pulses, oil seeds, maize and labour.
The way forward for the Indian crop protection industry would be to concentrate on Specialty Formulation; Cost with Quality and commitment; develop regulatory competence and regulatory data development with market research; increase reach and distribution while collaborating with generic distributors. The agrochemical sector faces multiple challenges but with workable solutions, which if taken care could lead India becoming a global manufacturing hub of quality crop protection solutions. To address this, it is important to develop local Crop protection and crop enhancement solutions based on global technologies and best practices to increase the country’s agricultural productivity while making it a food and nutrition secured nation.
“Crop protection is not just about using chemicals to manage pests – we must have holistic, environmentally safe “Greener crop protection and crop health solutions”, for overall wellbeing of Indian agriculture and millions of our farmers” says Ram Mudholkar, Chairman, CropLife India.
“With a growing population and its dynamic food habits for quality food, the country needs to raise nutrition security of the nation. India today imports substantial quantities of pulses and oilseeds on a regular basis and sugar and other products from time to time. We cannot continue to afford such imports for long, we must become ‘swadeshi’ or self-sufficient and be the net exporters thereby ensuring farmers welfare on a sustainable basis”, adds Mudholkar.
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 among various other factors which need to be addressed on priority.
Discovery of new molecules is a highly specialized 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 in a country regulatory level, it takes more than 8-10 years and involves an investment of more than 1600 Crores. Further, in India to provide access at the farm level, the product has to undergo 3-4 years of stringent evaluation on efficacy, safety, MRLs and other parameters as per guidelines established by Central Insecticide Board & Registration Committee (CIB&RC) and another 1-2 years for review of data and final registration approval.
The Government and stakeholders do not stop old technology or handsets used in the electronic and mobile industry, it continues to be used as long as they are safe– but farmers are discriminated against usage of new technology in agriculture for decades”, Mudholkar says
“CropLife India and its members of both Indian bred and global companies has been at the forefront to strengthen domestic manufacturing at par with global standards. Some of the significant forward looking regulations are harmonization with OECD protocols in major disciplines, crop grouping concept, minor changes regulation to enable innovation at a faster pace and many more in its engagement efforts, policy workshops have been organized in collaboration with regulators and policy makers that has paved the way towards progressive regulations in the country. While globally old molecules are gradually replacing new technology molecules, the Indian farmer should have access to technology , using new age molecules, which are safer and greener.”, says CropLife India CEO, Brij Uberoi.
Crop Protection ans Regulatory Guidelines
The approval and use of commercial crop protection products in all contexts is highly regulated all over the world, including India. In fact, India has a much more robust regulatory system and knowledgeable regulatory officials compared to most other countries. The Indian regulatory system is rapidly evolving to harmonize with global systems and FAO guidelines. Progressive regulations indicate there is an urgent need to reduce timelines of regulatory protocols.
Indian chemical industry is the 3rd largest in Asia and 6th largest in the world and contributes 2.11 per cent to India’s GDP. Agrochemicals contribute to 20.3 per cent of the GDP. An accelerated and green channel approach for newer and safer molecules will help in a win-win situation that will provide access to farmers for saving their crops from pests and disease attacks. Agrochemicals can increase yields and minimize losses, yet their adoption (esp. pesticides) is limited. The need of the hour is to introduce crop protection products with safer and greener chemistries, if used responsibly at the farm level, would lead to lower load of agrochemicals crop protection products with low residual levels up the food value chain. If farmers have ready access to quality products, it would reduce the usage of spurious and substandard products. The UN global population study trends indicate that India would surpass China to become the most populated nation in the world by 2022. Currently India’s population stands at 1.32 billion, supporting close to 17.84 per cent of the world population, with 2.4 per cent land resources and 4 per cent of water resources.
CropLife India is an association of R&D based crop science industry with a membership of 14 companies engaged in the manufacture, import and distribution of crop protection products.