By Jason Zhang, Editor of AgroPages
|Dr. Kim YongWhan, CEO at FarmHannong
AgroPages recently interviewed Dr. Kim YongWhan, CEO at FarmHannong, to seek his views on FarmHannong’s global presence, product series, synergies with LG Chem, commitment to the Green Bio Industry, overseas business expansion, as well as future development planning.
Company history and global presence
“FarmHannong is a pioneer of agriculture in the Korean Green Bio Market, taking the lead in supplying crop protection, seeds, and fertilizer products. As Korea’s first crop protection manufacturer since 1953, FarmHannong had always been the number 1 company with the most market share in the country,” Dr. Kim said.
“Till now, we have successfully launched and commercialized novel herbicides Metamifop, Pyribenzoxim and Flucetosulfuron and novel insecticide Bistrifluron in the market. In 2018, FarmHannong completed the development and registration of a new non-selective herbicide called Tiafenacil, brand name Terrad’or , in Korea and is now looking to introduce the product in Asia, including China and South America, in the next 2-3 years. FarmHannong will continue to seek ways to grow via new product development,” he further said.
Elaborating on the fertilizer business, Dr. Kim said, “FarmHannong’s fertilizer business began in 1967. It became the first composite fertilizer manufacturer in the country. As a second-ranked fertilizer company, followed by public sector company NH in Korea, we are concentrating on Controlled Release Fertilizer (CRF) and Water Soluble Fertilizer (WSF) in order to lead the value added product development.” Dr. Kim stated.
“In the seeds business, we are leading the market with more than 50 kinds of seeds and high skills of breeding techniques. We will improve our competitiveness by developing disease-tolerant and functional products and expanding ourselves with a new R&D centre opening in Thailand,” he added.
Synergies with LG Chem
FarmHannong was acquired by LG Chem in 2016. Since then, the DNA of LG Chem’s strategy—R&D and Manufacturing Innovation—has been integrated into the company. As a member of the LG group, FarmHannong was able to focus on the fundamentals of the business and has more room to invest in R&D activities.
“Currently, more than 15% of our staff is R&D staff. The constant investment in R&D and synergies with LG Chem will bring competitiveness and build a strong base for sustainable business,” Dr. Kim said.
“In case of the crop protection business, new molecule discovery and formulation technology to commercialize the substance are important. FarmHannong expects a synergy between LG Chem’s excellent R&D skills and FarmHannong’s field biology and formulation expertise to develop crop protection and fertilizer products,” he added.
“In case of the fertilizer business, the key success factor is achieving cost competitiveness, which we can utilize with LG’s manufacturing ability to create synergy. In addition, for the seeds business, we look to develop some breeds that require long-term investment or some products that are linked with crop protection via LG Chem’s technology to improve competitiveness,” Dr. Kim said.
Green bio industry and FarmHannong
FarmHannong is committed to being the leading green bio company in the world. The word “green bio” actually comes from LG’s bio business vocabulary. Green bio stands for agriculture, red bio for pharmaceuticals, and white bio for industrial enzymes.
Green bio industry refers to the high value-added industry in which food and agriculture are combined with biotechnology.
“As a green bio company, our goal is to contribute towards adequate food supply in global society, while efficiently managing recourses in crop protection, seeds, and fertilizers with green bio technology. With such an objective in mind, we are currently running a program called "Open Innovation", in order to create a network for co-development with a number of domestic and international university and research centres,” Dr. Kim said.
Converging Smart Farming and Precision Farming with Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) is another way FarmHannong aims to achieve its goals. “We do have some digital products, though not commercialized yet. Sooner or later, we want to provide such solutions to our growers,” Dr. Kim explained.
“I think the digital tools developed right now are more suitable for larger holders. But for small holders, like in Korea, Japan, China, and some Southeast Asian countries, it seems, it is very difficult to use that kind of technology. Farmers are still not ready to pay. So, we need to develop some solutions for small holders, and that is our target,” he added.
Overseas business expansion
The Ag life science (including seed and crop protection business) sales of FarmHannong in 2016 were some US$300 million, which was among the top 30 in the global Ag life science industry. The company’s sales were mostly derived from the Korean market, with some 10 per cent contribution from overseas sales from the United States and China.
“The US$2 billion Korean market(including fertilizer) is already fully matured. The overseas market is the key for our future growth. We will be concentrating on Asia Pacific as it shares many similarities in terms of crop cultivation, growing patterns, and culture. Also, from the merger with LG Chem’s subsidiary company for the crop protection business in the United States, we are looking to expand in South America as well,” Dr. Kim said.
“We are looking to enter the new market with products FarmHannong developed, such as non-selective herbicide Tiafenacil (Terrad’or), rice herbicide Metamifop (Pyzero), Pyribenzoxim (Pyanchor), Flucetosulfuron (Zechor), and horticulture insecticide Bistrifluron (Hanaro). Along with our competitive product range, we expect to create results via Alliance and Partnership (A&P), as it would allow us to meet the exact market needs,” Dr. Kim told AgroPages.
“In the fertilizer business, our main focus is Controlled Release Fertilizer (CRF), which will be formulated to meet required farming conditions—soil condition, breed, and climate—in order to fully satisfy the consumers. In the seeds business, we expect our seed R&D centre in Thailand to play a vital role in product development, targeting China, India, and South Asia-oriented products,” he said.
Farmhannong’s vision is to be a green bio company that enriches human life with differentiated customer value. To achieve this vision, all members in the organization share the following values: creating customer value, challenge and passion, communication and sympathy, and an aim to become a top green bio company.
“We are committed to constantly developing and providing the innovative and compelling products and services beyond customer expectation with total solution for green bio and farming technology. We have products and services that lead to an abundance of high quality and high yields that contribute to safe and healthy lives. Also, we aim to create synergy with companies in the LG group and trend in smart and precision farming and produce a product that contributes to high yield and healthy human lives,” Dr. Kim said.