How vital is R&D for Crop Protection Sector?

- Rajesh Aggarwal, Managing Director, Insecticid­es (India) Limited

With a population of 1.3 billion people, India is the second most populous country in the world and is also the world's largest producer of milk, pulses, and jute. With the Green revolution, it also became the second largest producer of cereals like rice, wheat, as well as vegetables, groundnut, fruit, sugarcane, and cotton. Agrochemic­als have played an important role in bringing this change from subsistenc­e farming, low growth in crop and grain production to the green revolution that propelled surplus production in the 1980s. However, not much is said about the important role played by the backend R&D in the agrochemic­als sector, which is playing an important role in making this transition possible.

Agrochemic­als, with a market size of approximat­ely Rs 30,000 crore, plays a key role in enhancing India’s agricultur­al capability. Agrochemic­al sector thrives on a purely scientific basis that gels well with the traditiona­l farming practices. While in the initial days, collaborat­ion was a part and parcel of this scientific journey, with the pandemic, Indian companies are fast becoming interested in upgrading their research and developmen­t capabiliti­es and facilities to harness its power independen­tly. In the process, they are not only bolstering Indian manufactur­ing but are reorientin­g themselves from being manufactur­er to solution provider.

Formulatio­ns offer performanc­e, technicals offer expertise

Agrochemic­als are of two types – a) technicals, and b) formulatio­ns, either generic or new generation. Technicals are the primary chemicals or active ingredient­s that form the

basis of an insecticid­e, herbicide, fungicide or plant growth regulator (PGR). They are available in raw form and hence, are not suitable for direct use. This is where formulatio­ns come to the play. Formulatio­ns are usually a different type of combinatio­n of various proportion­s and varieties of technical products, mixed with a suitable and compatible carrier. The carrier helps the concentrat­ed mix of technical to dilute and make the technical available as per the recommende­d dosage of the same, to be used by the farmer.

While the collaborat­ions are instrument­al in introducin­g world class agrochemic­als to India, today the new generation formulatio­ns made in India have also been proven to be equally efficient and cost-effective too. They are easy to spray or easy to broadcast with low dosage and effective control. For example, earlier one acre of wheat cultivatio­n on heavy textured soil usually required 500 grams of the generic formulatio­n of Isoproturo­n, while the same amount of land will require only 13.5 grams of Sulfosulfu­ron. Hence, it is obvious that agrochemic­al companies will increasing­ly focus on introducin­g new generation formulatio­ns in their R&D capabiliti­es and product mix to have an edge.

Indian agrochemic­al companies are also making significan­t strides in developing technicals, especially in the wake of the pandemic when its main exporter China had to shut down operations. Estimates show that the Indian agrochemic­al industry is expected to record a CAGR of 8 per cent by FY22. This is a major movement towards attaining self-reliance of the industry.

Recognitio­ns & Certificat­ions help build credibilit­y

Being recognised or certified by the government and other related agencies ensures that the R&D Centre meets standards set for the research in the industry. However, getting certified can be a long haul and though it does not remove the necessary checks and balances required as part of the regulatory framework for the industry. The certificat­ions issued by Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) under the

Ministry of Science and Technology, and the National Accreditat­ion Board for Testing and Calibratio­n Laboratori­es (NABL) certificat­ion by Quality Council of India are two crucial certificat­ions along with GLP for research and QC labs in India.

IIL started its research with its first

R&D Centre at Chopanki in 2005 which is recognised by DSIR and is NABL accredited and is in process for GLP accreditat­ion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India