Ficci conference to focus on crop protection chemicals
With crop protection critical for food and nutrition security, a two-day Ficci conference here from Monday will focus on judicious use of agrochemicals for higher productivity and mitigating losses from pests and weeds.
"Agro-chemicals not only protect, but also help in improving crop yields by 20-50 percent and mitigate crop losses from pest, weeds and diseases by 20-40 percent," a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) statement said Sunday ahead of its fourth national conference on agrochemicals.
Though India is the fourth largest producer of agrochemicals after the US, Japan and China, its consumption is the lowest at 600 gm per hectare as against 7 kg per hectare in the US and 12 kg per hectare in Japan.
"Even within the country, usage of pesticide varies, with top three states accounting for 50 percent of its consumption. The disparity is reflected in the crop protection industry growing at only eight percent average over the last five years to $2.1 billion, while exports grew 17 percent average during the same period to $2 billion in 2013," Ficci said in its preview on the meet.
As the industry's installed capacity exceeds demand, Ficci is of the view that the idle capacity should be optimally used to increase the share of agrochemicals exports.
In contrast, fertiliser consumption in the country at 144 kg per hectare is higher than global average of 122 kg per hectare, reflecting the potential for increasing use of agrochemicals.
"With low-cost manufacturing and lower wages, India is a net exporter of pesticides to African and European countries and North America," said Ficci.
As exports accounted for 50 percent of production and sales in 2013, the chambers wants the government to revise the regulatory approvals for making India a global manufacturing hub of agro-chemicals.
"There is need to increase awareness about the positive role of agrochemicals, as insecticides provide protection to crops from insects by killing them or preventing their attack," said Ficci.
Similarly, fungicides protect crops from fungi attacks in the form of protectants and eradicants - the former prevent fungal growth and the latter kill pests on application.
"Bio-pesticides are new age crop protection products manufactured from natural substances like plants, animals, bacteria and certain minerals. They are eco-friendly, easy to use; require lower dosage amounts for same performance as compared to chemical based pesticides," noted Ficci.
As plant growth regulators help in controlling or modifying the growth process, they are used in cotton, rice and fruits. Seed coatings are also gaining importance.
Ficci noted that owing to increasing urbanisation, there has been a steady decline in the per capita arable land availability and farm workforce.
Studies estimate that the quantum of farm workforce in developing economies like India will reduce to 50 percent by 2020 from 70 percent in 1980s due to migration, farm mechanization and increasing use of farm lands for non-agriculture activities.
The conference on "Agrochemicals for Ensuring Food and Nutritional Security of the Nation", organised in association with the departments of chemicals and petrochemicals and agriculture, will be inaugurated by Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister Ananthkumar.
As the conference will flag on the role of agrochemicals in the economy and highlight business opportunities in the sector, the focus will be on issues faced by the industry and strategies to address them; making India a global manufacturing hub of quality agrochemicals and a facilitating regulatory regime.
(Posted on 24-08-2014)