IFC and IFC Emerging Asia Fund (EAF) have made an investment of Rs. 300 core (approx.US$37Mn) in Crystal Crop Protection, a leading agrochemical player in India. The investment will boost farm productivity, reduce supply chain disruptions triggered by COVID-19, and set up a robust infrastructure for the sustainable production of crop protection products. The IFC Emerging Asia Fund, launched in 2016, makes equity and equity-like investments across all sectors in emerging markets in Asia alongside IFC. The new investment promises to benefit millions of Indian farmers by establishing a robust production framework for green crop solutions.
The project will increase farmers’ access to customised, affordable, and environment-friendly crop protection products and in doing so, enhance their productivity. While supporting farmers, the project will increase market competitiveness, playing a catalytic role toward strengthening the agriculture sector in India.
While agriculture provides employment for nearly half of India’s labour force, it contributed only about 17 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) in 1Q-FY23. Farmer incomes are low and volatile due to poor access to quality inputs, credit, technical expertise, and markets. Addressing these challenges will help the sector increase profits and raise farmers’ incomes.
The financing package will support Crystal Growth plans, enabling it to focus on innovation and strengthening its research and development (R&D) capacity. Improved R&D ability will support the Indian agrochemical industry to align itself with environmentally-friendly global market trends.
Highlighting the transaction, Ankur Aggarwal, Managing Director, Crystal Crop Protection said, “This investment will further consolidate the company’s position in the Indian market and strengthen its commitment toward sustainable crop solutions to increase farm profitability of Indian farmers by leveraging R&D and technology. We remain committed to the highest standards of environmental, health and safety guidelines, and governance in all our operations.”
Speaking on the investment, Wendy Werner, India Country Head at IFC said, “As India emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, the agriculture sector remains critical to green recovery. IFC’s investment will help improve access to sustainable, tailor-made agri-solutions benefiting millions of farmers.”
“Strengthening climate-smart agribusiness is at the heart of our development mission in the country. We are confident this investment will bolster supply chains, encourage future investors and promote resilience in the sector,” she added.
The investment will also help the company improve its IT infrastructure and automation in its plants. Going forward, Crystal aims to grow double digits in crop protection chemicals and seeds by funding working capital requirements. The company recently launched a new business in agrochemical retail, Saffire Crop Science, which will leverage technology to promote crop solutions and services, allowing farmers to access them more efficiently.
Partnerships and acquisition opportunities have been strategic steps for Crystal, with significant domestic acquisitions— nine acquisitions to date, with six in the last five years. Ernst & Young acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Crystal on the transaction.
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