Farming the future

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Industry Leaders

Farming the future

“We strive to work for the farmers and provide them complete end to end solutions within their reach. Whatever it may be; agrochemicals, biological products, bio-fertilizers, we are not product centric. We are need centric and focus on fulfilling the same,” asserts Rajesh Aggarwal, MD, Insecticides (India) Limited (IIL). With the mantra of saving crops from fields to storage, he aims to catapult the agro-chemicals dynamics in India by bringing in world-class global best practices.

Indian agriculture sector has been receiving strong push from the government and is touted as the sunshine sector. Your views on the same.

Rajesh Aggarwal, MD, Insecticides (India) 

The present government has adopted several pertinent policies and programs to safeguard the interest of the farmers and the agricultural sector as a whole. Even when the PM recently addressed the country on the New Year’s Eve, he announced many initiatives and policies to incentivise the farmers. We, at Insecticides India Ltd (IIL), wholeheartedly support the initiatives of PMO and would also like to add more initiatives to train and educate the farmers. The role of R&D and farmers’ education is crucial. Farmers’ access to latest researches and scientific information can help in overcoming issues such as seed problems, pest and disease problems, crop sustainability, climate change, irrigation problems, soil erosion, and so on. Technology integration has great potential to help farmers take informed decisions.

Please highlight India’s positioning in the global agro-chemicals market. How is your company destined to make it leader in the same?

Globally the agrochemical market will be almost USD 71 billion by FY 18. Out of this, Indian market stands at 16000 crore. India is the fourth largest global producer of agro-chemicals after the US, Japan and China. Insecticides dominate the crop protection market in India with 60% of the market share. Herbicides, with 16% market share, are the fastest growing segment. The export of agro-chemicals from India has seen a strong growth over the last few years. Globally, India is the thirteenth largest exporter of agro-chemicals.

As a company, IIL is providing latest solutions to the market. We are bringing in patented products through partnerships (Japanese collaborations). We are working towards discovering new molecule, which is unique for an Indian company. We are also foraying into biological solutions. Insecticides (India) Ltd stands as a fully integrated company that gives it an edge over others and gives it a first-mover advantage in the industry.

Your vision is moving towards green growth pastures. How are you going to attain the same?

We strive to work for the farmers and provide them complete end to end solutions within their reach. Whatever it may be agro-chemicals, biological products, bio-fertilizers, we are not product centric. We are need centric and focus on fulfilling the same. 

How can companies embrace the right balance of ‘smart' and ‘sustainable’ practices and techniques that can make farmers prosperous?

Agriculture systems must become more productive, and losses should be minimized. Sustainable agricultural practices and food systems, including both production and consumption, must be pursued from a holistic and integrated perspective. Most of the farmers face a problem of low minimum support price (MSP). We would recommend them to try and shift to the new crop avenues which are in demand and can yield more profits. Some of the examples are the medicinal herbs, horticulture and flowers.

How do you view Indian economy in the current scheme of things?

We look at today’s economy rightly poised for the future. We need to make use of the current available policies and change yourself accordingly, and if we do not change with time, time will change us. There is a big focus from the central as well as the state government for agriculture sector.

Supply chain plays a crucial role in the entire value chain. Kindly highlight the importance under your business purview.

Supply chain is very important for us, as we have seasonal products based on the monsoon, so we need to mobilize the stocks from one area to other so that they are consumed and we do not carry them over to the next year. Here planning and close monitoring is the key.

What are the CSR activities being undertaken by you?

The IIL Foundation, which works closely with farmers, is involved with a host of activities, across India, aimed at improving the lives of farmers by providing awareness, school aid and more. Agricultural experts and scientists working with IIL Foundation offer progressive farm training to cultivators, while educating them on soil fertility management and judicious use of agrochemicals. The organization’s experts regularly interact with farmers to provide them scientific support and knowledge and help them increase yield and crop quality.

Recently we have also signed a MoU with IARI to train the farmers in the selected villages and share the benefits with all if the use of the latest technology. We also work in the area of child education in rural India; we have adopted some schools in states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, Odisha, etc.

Please comment on enhancing India’s food security over the long term…

Food security is the joint responsibility of all of us. We need to work on saving the crops from field to storage. There is need for awareness where the food is not wasted.

How difficult is it for you to reach to the bottom of the pyramid when it comes to implementing technology in the business and make them familiar with the same?

At Insecticides (India) Ltd, we work towards the betterment of the crops and farmers. We strongly believe that farmers do not need chemicals for everything. Chemicals are required for instant solutions or major problems. Hence, a combination of biologicals and chemicals are required for seamless crop productivity. India is a difficult market and local expertise is important to provide timely education and information to the farmers. We try to reach to the bottom and provide our products at affordable price and we sell our products at cost price (instead of ROI).

Your take on the implementation of GST…

GST is being projected as the single biggest and boldest indirect tax reform in India since Independence. GST arose out of the complexity in the current tax systems. It is an attempt to provide a seamless transfer of goods & services across the entire country, replace multiple indirect taxes imposed by the Centre and states and simplify the existingtax structure, streamline compliance & logistical complexity issues for interstate transactions and make ease of doing business in India a reality. Under the proposed dual system of C-GST and S-GST, both Center and states will continue levying taxes on goods & services at a mutually agreed upon rate, and businesses will need to pay taxes to separate accounts. Worldwide, more than 140 countries have already implemented GST. Majority of these countries adhere to the concept of single GST. The standard GST rates in most countries vary between 15-20%. While it is expected that will create a uniform pan-India taxation rate, it is still a long way to go before this goal is achieved.

Your comments on the recently announced Union Budget 2017-18…

The Union Budget 2017 has put substantial focus on agriculture sector, which is a really welcome move. The total allocation for rural, agricultural and allied sectors is set at Rs1,87,223 crore, which is 24% higher than last year's. This is heartening. The government said it is committed to double farmers' incomes in 5 years. The Finance Minister has announced certain measures to incentivize farming, for instance, reducing the interest rate on farm loans. This was much needed to make up for the losses the agriculture sector has suffered in the wake of demonetization.

The government has increased the Fasal Bima Yojana from 30 to 40 per cent and has also promised to issue soil health cards and setup a mini lab in Krishi Vigyan Kendras. These are welcome moves. But implementation will be more important than announcement. The decision to set up a dedicated micro-irrigation fund with an initial corpus of Rs5000 crore could make a difference in a country where much of agriculture depends on the vagaries of the seasonal monsoon rain.

Humble Beginnings
Rajesh Aggarwal has established a name for himself in the Indian entrepreneurial arena. Counted among the top five in agro-chemicals manufacturing, Insecticides (India) Limited has showcased remarkable growth under his stewardship. Ambitious and determined, Aggarwal has successfully taken the company to new heights and under his leadership its revenue has grown manifold. Moving away from family’s three generation- old business, he along with his father Hari Chand Aggarwal established IIL, which started its operation in 2002. It was a period when, India’s agrochemical sector was in doldrums due to economic recession and the days of many multinational companies that had invested in this sector were numbered. IIL started with an established brand Lethal, which they took on lease from Montari Industries. Understanding the vital role of a manufacturing unit he started the company’s own unit in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan. Today IIL, which owns 108 products, has emerged as a formidable player in the Indian agro-chemicals sector growing at a cumulative rate of about 35% since inception.

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