New Delhi, Aug. 25 ANI | 1 year ago

Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister Ananth Kumar on Monday said the government will constitute a task force of experts and scientists soon to dwell on various aspects of the draft National Fertilizer Policy.

The two-day conference is being organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in association with the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Government of India.

Kumar, who inaugurated the fourth National Conference on Agrochemicals on the theme 'Agrochemicals for Ensuring Food and Nutrition Security of the Nation', invited the industry stakeholders to provide inputs for formulating the policy and added that in the Winter Session of Parliament, the government would initiate action to pass the Pesticides Management Bill 2008 expeditiously to accelerate the growth and development of this sector.

Kumar urged the industry to increase the use of bio-fertilizers or green fertilizers.

He said that there is a need to develop green fertilizers so that soil health is maintained and production of crops also increases without affecting the quality.

"We need to create a mission which incentivizes farmers for using green or bio fertilizers," said Kumar.

"We need to ascertain before applying pesticides whether they are complementary or detrimental to the Mother Nature," he added.

It is essential to preserve and aim for holistic increase in crop production. Earlier, in the green revolution of the 60s and 70s, the crop production was doubled but it had lasting detrimental effects on the soil. Therefore, while India did achieve increase in quantity, it compromised on quality. Now the aim should be to achieve food security along with nutritional security.

Kumar said that there was a need to develop Research and Development with emphasise on green technology and green pesticide. Also, there is a need for skilling human resource besides following the best practices adopted across the world. For instance, the pesticides that have been banned in many countries are still being used in India extensively which are depleting the soil quality.

On the occasion, a FICCI-TATA Strategic Management Group knowledge paper on 'Agrochemicals for Ensuring Food and Nutrition Security of the Nation' was released by the Minister.

The report highlights the need of agrochemicals for overcoming the challenges faced by Indian agriculture sector in ensuring the food and nutrition security. It highlights the future growth potential for crop protection industry in India and export opportunities for the Indian industry. The report showcases key imperatives for agrochemical companies, government and regulatory bodies to promote the growth of agrochemicals.

In his special address, Dr. A.J.V Prasad, Joint Secretary (Chemicals), Department of C and PC, said that crop loss due to pests, weeds and diseases highlighted the importance of agrochemicals for crop protection. He stated that the growing need of agrochemicals provides significant export opportunities to Indian manufacturers. Availability of technically trained manpower and competence in low cost manufacturing would play a pivotal role for Indian players to expand their global presence.

Dr. Ram Mudholkar, Chairman FICCI Agrochemcials Sub-Committee and Business Director, Dupont Crop Protection (South Asia), said that agriculture productivity is getting impacted because of crop losses. Globally up to 40 per cent of potential crop production is lost to pests, disease and weed attacks. In addition to pre-harvest losses up to 20 per cent of world's agriculture production is lost due to post-harvest attacks. Agrochemicals attack these pests and help in increasing the crop yield. This is critical to meet the growing food demand. However, crop losses due to pest attacks both pre-harvest and post-harvest are affecting the agriculture productivity. The problem can be overcome by use of agrochemicals. Agrochemicals in the past have helped increase crop yield up to 70 per cent of attainable production. Significant potential still exists to improve the crop yield by use of agrochemicals.

Rik L. Miller, Global President, DuPont Crop Protection Pvt. Ltd., spoke about the work done in the sector for food security and nutrition security. He added that the potential of the sector can be achieved with proper policy framework and regulatory support, which includes appropriately controlling the quality of agrochemicals in view of the environmental concerns.

Dr. Arbind Prasad, Director General, FICCI, said that in view of the importance of agrochemicals sector for ensuring national food security, FICCI was giving focused attention to the sector and have constituted a dedicated sub-committee for the same.

Vinay Mathur, Deputy Secretary General, FICCI, said that the global population was expected to reach 9.3 billion by 2050. By 2030, India would surpass China, to become world's most populous country. However, an issue of concern was that both globally and in India, the share of rural population and per capita availability of arable land was decreasing. This highlighted the necessity for farmers to produce more food on less land.

Announcing the findings of 2014 report, Manish Panchal, Practice Head - Chemicals and Energy, Tata Strategic Management Group, said, "Agrochemicals play a critical role in ensuring food and nutrition security of the nation. However pesticide consumption in India is as low as 0.6 kg/ha as compared to global as compared to global average of 3 kg/ha. The per hectare yield at 3 tonnes/ha in India is amongst the lowest in the World. In order to realize the true potential, industry, government and regulatory bodies need to work in."

The report highlights that Indian crop protection market currently stands at USD 4.25 billion in FY14 with exports constituting 50 percent of the market. The market is expected to reach USD 7.5 billion by FY19 with a CAGR of 12-13 percent. The exports are expected to grow at 15-16 percent to reach USD 4.2 billion by FY19.

The report recommends that in order to build a strong export base companies should set up marketing offices in association with domestic players in identified export geographies. Companies can look for strategic alliances with local companies to expand their marketing and distribution reach. Companies can also explore merger and acquisition opportunities to increase their global presence.

Despite the strong growth drivers, Indian agrochemicals industry faces challenges in terms of low awareness among farmers and rising sales of non-genuine products. With large number of end users spread across the vast geography, managing availability and in turn distribution costs is a challenge for all the major players. The report recommends that a collaborative approach by the Industry, Government and Regulatory bodies is the need of the hour to realize the full potential of agrochemicals industry.

It was noted that Indian exports of agrochemicals have witnessed a strong growth in recent times. Today exports constitute almost 50 percent of Indian industry. Opportunities in generic products, availability of technically trained manpower and low cost manufacturing capability in India are driving the Indian exports. The Indian exports are expected to grow at 15-16 percent over the next five years.

Charu Kapoor, Principal - Chemicals Practice, Tata Strategic Management Group, said, "Tremendous export opportunities exist for Indian players. However Indian exports constitute a maximum of 5-6 percent of overall imports of top 5 global importing countries. This signifies a significant potential for Indian agrochemical sector to increase their penetration. Companies can follow various strategies like their global counterparts to increase their global presence."

(Posted on 26-08-2014)

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