Agriculture

Jain Brothers Fueling Small Ideas Big Revolutions

Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd (JISL) has touched new highs globally in micro irrigation, onion processing, agri research &, renewable energy. Editor R & M Ajay Adlakha visits the establishments and centres of the company at Jalgaon, Maharashtra, to assess how do Jain Brothers, with separate responsibilities, scale up ‘Small Ideas’ to bring in ‘Big Revolutions.’
Jain Brothers Fueling Small Ideas Big Revolutions

Jain Hills, spread across nearly 2,100 acres, gives an impression of positive energy all around and makes feel special as it not only houses world’s one of the largest irrigation companies but also tells you an inspiring story of rise and rise of JISL. Panoramic views and greenery all around undermine the scorching heat of peak summer. As you move inside ‘Parishram’ you get a glimpse of the Jain’s journey which began in 1960s. R&D Centre, field trials of new and advanced varieties of mango, banana, pomegranate and others reflect the strength of the company.

From R&D Centre to Biogas plant, one can easily decipher unique functioning of the Jain’s Associates (no one is an employee here, everybody is an associate) – which reflects a sense of pride and dedication to their work. Certainly, these virtues are instrumental in making the company a global giant. Onion and mango processing units at Jain Hills display how state-of-art machinery and local associate intermingle to produce and process the best quality of these food products in massive quantity. On the whole, one day is not enough to understand the functioning of all establishments of the company located at the Jain Hills and other locations in Jalgaon. Solar energy is yet another forte of the company. The contribution of Solar energy to total business of the company is gradually increasing and has touched 4 percent.

Jain Brothers

Founder BhavarLal Hiralal Jain, who passed away early this year, is still a driving and guiding force. At Chairman’s office ‘Kanti,’ nobody sits now. The eldest son Ashok Jain, who succeeded as chairman, says ‘Bhau’ (as the founder popularly was known) is still guiding us. A commerce graduate, as head of the company, he looks after all administrative and operational functions. Anil Jain (Managing Director & CEO) is a Commerce and Law graduate and he excels in finance, banking, strategic planning, merger & acquisitions and collaborations. He is instrumental in global expansion of the company and operates from the company’s Mumbai office. Ajit and Atul Jain (Joint Managing Directors) have separate responsibilities. Ajit, a mechanical engineer, is looking after pipe division and marketing of all pipe products. The youngest son Atul, a commerce graduate, is responsible for overall marketing management.

The Board meeting on May 30 and the annual Banana Conference brought Jain brothers together at Corporate Headquarters at Jain Hills. With rapidly growing business, the gathering of four brothers at one place happens rarely now.

The Journey

The company started as a local pipe manufacturer in India and has since grown to be a leading manufacturer of irrigation equipment with 13 manufacturing plants in India and 17 overseas and a workforce of 11,500 people. Its annual turnover has grown to over a billion US Dollars.

When the company was established 30 years ago, its products covered 25,000 farmers in India. Now, Jain Irrigation caters to the demand of 5 million farmers in the country. Starting with a base of five countries, Jain Irrigation has expanded to cater to the needs of agriculture in 129 countries. With a mission to change the agriculture in developing countries such as India, its products offer improved productivity and cost savings to farmers with small landholdings.

Harking to the mission statement of the company, sustainability and inclusiveness are key to Jain Irrigation as a business. The company has even been recognized globally, including in the US magazine Fortune, which placed Jain Irrigation in seventh place on a list of 51 companies around the world that are changing the universe for the better – the only company on the list from India. This sentiment of sustainability and making the world a better place is strongly linked to the company’s roots as a family business.

“Almost 50 percent of our business today is micro-irrigation or irrigation technology which saves water and aids productivity for farmers,” says Atul Jain, Joint MD. About 20 per cent of our business is piping which supplies to farmers and for infrastructure projects, including water, gas and cables. About 22 per cent of our current business is what we call food processing – buying from farmers. We add value, process the food, and sell it to large global food companies like Coca-Cola, Nestle, Unilever, as fruit juice, concentrate and dried vegetables,” he adds.

Furthermore, about 10 percent of the company’s business is agro-appliance that includes biotechnology and it also does some renewable energy products like solar water pumps and solar streetlights. “We have even started a finance company ‘SAFAL’ to provide low cost, easily accessible loans to small farmers in India,” says Atul.

Climate Resilient Agriculture

Jain brothers are not just passionate about supplying products to customers. However, they see that a major challenge for agriculture in the coming decades will be climate change, and they want Jain Irrigation to help farmers to contain the effects of climate change, and the adverse weather it could cause, on their businesses.

“We believe our products, technologies and solutions are going to be very helpful to contain the impact of climate change,” says Atul. “Climate change is here for all of us to see and feel. And it’s going to be disastrous, especially for the agriculture community. Essentially what’s important is helping to improve productivity on small farms and save precious natural resources such as water and energy. It’s also vital to ensure that soil is good. While we do this, we try and ensure that for farmers who use our agtech, their income will grow, their productivity will go up. This is important to us,” he adds.

“Because my father came from a village, he had what you could say are small-village values: he valued water, he valued the animals,” says big brother Ashok Jain, Chairman, JISL. His mother, when she gave him advice to join business, told him, “if you go and take a job, you can do well for yourself, but be an entrepreneur and do something which will not only do good for larger communities but also do good for the earth.’ So those words came from his mother, my grandmother. Following her teachings and my father’s actions, we have today, our company which has pioneered inclusive and sustainable business while ‘creating shared value.”

“We are starting on a cusp of revolution to improve food, water and energy security. Our motto of ‘Small Ideas, Big Revolution’ is the essence of future,” Ashok emphasizes.

One-Stop Agri Shop: Completing the Agri Value Chain

In view of an intensely specialized and highly focussed world, JISL believes in propagating and practicing an Integrated System Approach for agriculture development which can make a world of difference. The company manufactures Piping Systems for closed water conveyance, most cost effective yet very efficient micro and sprinkler irrigation systems as well as Green and Shade Houses. “We supply Tissue Plants and Bio fertilizers fortified with microbial cultures and soil fertility enhancers,” informs the JMD. In the alternative energy sector, the company produces electricity from farm and crop waste.

A visit to solar sites and seeing the big revolving panels justify the claim that the JISL has become a major player in solar energy capture, both heat and photo voltaic.

JISL designs and executes turnkey projects, both for small and large farm holders offering land, soil and water survey and sampling, irrigation system planning, design and installation. “We provide high-tech agronomical and technical services. We also train farmers. Our extensive research and experience help us give down-to-earth solutions for complex agricultural challenges,” says Ajit Jain, JMD, JISL.

Obviously, JISL’s large demo-farms display agro-technology in operations. It is also engaged in ‘Contract Farming.’ “We buy back farm produce at pre-determined prices (irrespective of market prices) from over 5,000 farmers and provide them with all the required inputs and comprehensive services through Jain Gram Sevaks (village extension workers). Bankers are brought in for timely and easy credit availability. Contract farming is a win-win proposition for bankers, farmers as well as ourselves,” says Atul.

The select produce gets processed at the Jain Hill located modern Food processing units and the value added final products are sold in the domestic and export markets.

Thus, the integrated approach results in a value addition at every stage and completes the agricultural value chain.

Financial Performance

JISL has maintained its momentum by growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 15 percent in the last five years. Consolidated profit after tax for FY16, up by 59.4 percent, went to Rs 88.3 crore. Current order book stands at Rs 1,194 crore. Domestic retail micro irrigation systems (MIS) business grew by 5 percent during FY16 in spite of continuing challenging agro-climatic conditions.

After the board meeting, announcing the financial performance Managing Director and CEO of the company, Anil Jain says, "Financial Year 2016 ended on neutral basis for us in terms of revenue. However, PAT on consolidated basis is up by almost 60 percent which is very heartening. Last year has been very challenging due to severe drought and general agrarian distress. Financial Year 2017 looks more optimistic with expected good monsoon.”

“I believe our balance sheet has considerably strengthened with successful closure of Mandala and promoter equity investment of approximately Rs 800 crore. We are also observing more conducive environment for growth in FY 17 due to confluence of various positive local and global factors. We look forward to stay on sustained growth path and significant improvement in our earnings," he adds.

Impact 

JISL has changed socio-economic scenario of Maharashtra’s Jalgaon and farmers vouch for its contributions. It is now impacting the rural economy of Maharashtra through its complete agri solutions. Providing respectable jobs to locals and hand-holding of farmers through its agri solutions, the company has transformed the rural economy. Manohar Arun Chauhan, a farmer of Nandra-Budruk village, nearly 17 km from Jalgaon, says, “I have 3 acre land and banana plantation with drip irrigation has improved by annual earnings. We use banana tissue culture from Jain Irrigation and our annual income has crossed Rs 1.5 lakh and now I have taken more land on lease.”

Prominent agri scientist Dr RS Paroda, who attended the Banana Conference at Jain Hills says, “I visited R& D centres and trial fields of the company and am very impressed. Real ‘Made in India’ is happening here only and we are looking overseas for ‘Make in India.’

“ I feel for  promotion of agriculture sector especially agricultural research, the government should urgently come out with a clear policy,” adds Dr Paroda.  

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Awarded 50 Most influencial Rural marketing Professionals of India With a passion for Print Media, brand and marketing communications, founded i9 Media ,a publishing house has come up with India's first rural magazine "Rural & Marketing"-Integrating Urban with rural markets and digital portal ruralmarketing. As Editor-In-Chief and Technology Expert for print media and Corporate Communications. Proven ability to fully run an editorial team and grow existing clients as well as winning new business. Over 20 years experience across all media channels including broadcast TV, print ads, interactive media, digital media, & emerging technologiesAs, after years of erudition, Ajay decided to nurture the canvas of India’s social fabric, he discovered himself afresh. His skills for coming up with plans and accomplishing projects fit him altruistic-at-heart, as he accommodates a school for the specially disabled children, and an entrepreneur-by-mind, as he manages the directions of his Full Service Advertising Agency, including a publishing unit, India’s first Integrated Urban & Rural Marketing Magazine.The author’s inclination towards social services has led him to contribute in project like water and sanitation in the schools, and it is dear to his heart. Presently, the author is pondering on the technological breakthroughs that are taking place in the Indian agriculture, and honing his expertise in Pro Bono Consulting, Knowledge Curation and getting closer to the knowing. You can get in touch with the author at ajayadlakha@gmail.com.
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