Agriculture holds prime importance in the socio-economic fabric of India and is backbone of Indian economy, as it employs half of India’s work force and contributes 17% to the nation’s GDP. The Green Revolution towards the beginning of 1970s had major economic effects in terms of production and productivity. The Green Revolution lead India from a food deficit country to food surplus economy. It has not only helped to increase exports of agricultural products but has also helped satisfy the demands of India’s huge population.
Between 1975 to 2014, India’s population has increased more than 100% from 0.62 billion to 1.3 billion, but Agricultural Production in India has increased 1400%, means multiplied 14 times, from value of US$ 25 billion to 367 billion. India’s agricultural production has increased in variety and in volume, not only to ensure food security of the nation but also for good exports.
Crop Protection Chemicals played vital role in increasing Agricultural Production in India in two ways; protecting the crops and produce from pests and increasing the Farm productivity. Insecticides dominates Indian Crop Protection market and form almost 53% of the domestic crop protection chemicals market, followed by Herbicides 24%, Fungicides 19% and others 4%. Major applications of pesticides in India is on rice and cotton. Herbicides are emerging as the fastest growing segment amongst agrochemicals.
India with cultivated land area of about 150 million hectares, currently ranks 2nd in world in agricultural production with a value of $ 367 billion and 8th largest in agricultural produce exports with a value of $ 35 billion.
As far as Indian Pesticide Industry’s concerned, India currently is 4th largest global producer of Pesticides after USA, Japan and China. Domestic consumption of pesticides in India is worth US$ 2.77 billion while Exports worth US$ 2.31 billion, total market size worth US$ 5.08 billion. The exports by Indian companies’ Generic segment producing wide range of world class formulations, significantly contributed to the growth.
However, with average consumption of pesticides in India with 0.65 gm/ha against the global average of 3 kg/ha, the Agrochemicals sector in India has huge unrealized potential for growth, given the presently very low level of application as compared to global norms.
As per industry estimates, yearly crop losses in India due to pests and diseases amounts to 15 - 25% of the total output in the country. It necessitates emphasis on crop protection chemicals particularly insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and others like fumigants and rodenticides to protect the crop and after harvest produce in storage and transport.
With focus on adopting to newer, safer and low-dose molecules with minimal or no adverse impacts on soil & plants, human health and non-targeted species, sustainable modern crop protection technologies are encouraged in India. In India with only 25% to 30% of cultivated area coming under crop protection umbrella, advanced crop protection technologies will have greater market scope.
Biopesticides and Bio-stimulants – the growing segment
There has been significant increase in number of biological control agents registered for use in India. Government is also promoting increased usage of biological products for plant protection. Bio category with 3% of crop protection market in India currently is small proportion, but is steadily growing segment.
Government of India, while taking steps on increasing agricultural productivity, is also focusing on Doubling Farmers Income, which demands affordable pricing of agri inputs. While large-scale progressive farmers can afford prices, majority of Indian Farmers being small land holding Farmers with around 1-2 acres of land who are economically not very sound, making available crop protection products at most economic price will also be key to increase demand.
Opportunity for Indian Agrochemical Industry in Export front to establish itself as global sourcing point
With China Agrochemical Industry undergoing environmental protection rectification added with prevailing US-China trade war, it provides opportunity for Indian agrochemical industry as alternate global source point for agrochemicals. India has relatively advanced pesticide technical and formulation research capabilities. Currently Indian manufacturing capacities are under-utilized. With more investment, it will be great opportunity to increase its export business opportunities. The current US-China trade war also provides an opportunity to Chinese companies to establish manufacturing base in India and de-risk their future business growth strategies and vision plans, use advantages offered by the Indian Government’s Make in India initiatives.
“Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)” – Whether the concept can support Indian Agricultural Growth and the objective of Doubling Farmers Income?
Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) being encouraged by the Government of India with an expectation that this can help in improving farmers’ income. It is too early to predict any positive impact of ZBNF as, the idea to promote this approach in large-scale has contemplated by the Government very recently without sharing beneficial data supporting the tall claims. Zero Budget Natural Farming is a method which intends chemical-free agricultural activity, viz. farming without using of Fertilizers and Agrochemicals.
Though the concept called as Zero Budget Farming, in reality ZBNF is not at all Zero Budget Farming as major expenses are incurred on Water, Electricity, Pumps, Seeds, Manpower etc. Even organic inputs like Cow dung, cow urine, plant extracts and Composts etc. comes at a cost, as majority of the farmers do not have their own cows, particularly the marginal farmers with small land holding. Vermicompost which is used in organic farming is very expensive input. Organic farming is always labour intensive which pushes the production cost further. Whether the method of ZBNF can counter major incidence of pest attacks is another serious question.
ZBNF is promoted under false assumption that all natural plant extracts are harmless because they are natural. This ignores the fact that some of the plant extracts are highly toxic and risk associated by using them for Insect control is entirely un-assessed, without any scientific studies of their effects on birds, fishes and beneficial insects. Though there are high claims concerning ZBNF, Government Research institutions and Agricultural Universities are still studying ZBNF and also experimenting the method on various crops and have not endorsed its huge claims.
Agrochemical Industry has important role to play to ensure sustainable growth of Indian Agriculture by offering environmentally safe crop protection solutions to Farmers at most competent price. With no increase is likely in agricultural land due to urbanization and increasing housing needs, the technology has greater role to play.
Availability of smart mobile phones in rural India at a very cheap price, Use of Modern satellite mapping technologies, dawn of the new Agri focused start-up firms, Use of Drones in mapping and spraying fields with perfect dose of Pesticides and Nutrients offers very promising and exciting future.
The article is from 2019 INDIA PESTICIDE SUPPLIERS GUIDE magazine.