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Monsanto to invest over Rs 2,000 crore on R&D in Indiaqrcode

Jun. 7, 2013

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Jun. 7, 2013
Monsanto will be investing over Rs 2,000 crore on research and development over the next 10 years in India,  but it sees a drop in cotton acreage by 5-7% which could impact its business. Gyanendra Shukla, India region lead, Monsanto Company said cotton acreage will increase in Gujarat with conditions becoming favourable for the further advancement of the southwest monsoon during the next 3-4 days.

However, in other parts of the country, particularly in Vidarbha, it could fall with farmers opting for soyabean. "At this stage, farmers have made up their mind on what they want to plant. If there is a variation in rainfall, there might be a change in sowing pattern," he said while adding that he was expecting a 5-7% drop in overall area under cotton. "There will be a marginal impact on the business. As an agriculture company, we are used to this. You cannot expect things to always go up. A 5-10% swing is a normal thing," he said while mentioning that farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab use more seeds for cotton unlike their Gujarat cousins.

Cotton, corn and vegetables are the three main segments the company is focusing on. "Vegetable crops are prone to diseases and we are working on breeding and research regarding hybrid vegetable seeds, particularly tomato and pepper. We plan to launch exotic vegetable seeds of cherry tomato and bellafina bellpepper," he said. The company sells vegetable seeds under the Seminis brand, corn under the Dekalb brand and cotton under the Paras brand.

The company is working on corn seeds to make them resistant to the stemborer pest. "It looks that our pipeline for corn seed is well for the dry season (sowing in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh). We are working on the wet season (80% of corn sowing in India takes place during the kharif season) pipeline and some of our new products will be demonstrated and launched in the new season," he said.

The company gets Rs 163 for a 450-gram packet of Bt cotton seed (or Rs 250 per acre) as technology fee from farmers. On an average, a farmer in India uses 1.6 packet for sowing an acre. As world's second largest cotton exporter and producer, the country sows cotton on an average 11-12 million hectare during the early to late kharif season across nine states.

Monsanto is working on bollgard 111 genetically modified cotton technology. "The idea is to improve bollworm control by bringing new technique. The initial work has begun but given the way our regulatory system works, it will take anywhere between 5 to 7 years for approvals to bring it to market," said Shukla. Terming India's regulatory framework to be robust compared to other parts of the world, Shukla said systems had to evolve with changing times. "As an industry person, all you are looking is a system which is scientific and has a predictable time frame to get a technology approved. The current system is scientific but not predictable," he said.

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