to 2024, India is on the threshold of a great opportunity. Photo courtesy of Pezibear, Pixabay
This was the concise introduction provided by Indian Chemical News that encouraged several hundred people to attend a recent online event focussing on agrochemicals.
After welcoming the twelve-strong panel of speakers and all delegates to the session, ICN Editor Mr. Pravin Prashant did a fine job as moderator, making sure that each presenter focussed on the following key discussion points established for the webinar. These were:
• Demand and supply analysis of agro chemicals globally - where is the gap?
• Impediments in making India a global agro chemical manufacturing hub
• Ease of doing business and time-bound environmental clearances
• Impediments in establishing India as a major exporter of agrochem
• Role to be played by the government, industry and other stakeholders
• Putting monitoring mechanisms in place
The broad mix of speakers, including government officials, scientists, chemical federation officials, major agrochemicals producers, start-up companies, consultants, market researchers, and even farmers, guaranteed a lively and well-informed webinar.
Together, the panel proposed measures to enhance the Indian agrochemical sector.
These ranged from the practical: ‘adding QR codes to packaging will help farmers to better understand and use agrochemicals, enhancing both yields and HSE’ to the political: ‘government must create a level playing field, whereby Intellectual Property Rights are properly respected. That will facilitate the domestic development of new, superior products and encourage foreign investors’.
It is beyond the scope of this journal to report extensively on all the discussions, but it is hoped that the following observations will indicate the quality of the event. Many speakers, for example, noted that India currently ranks sixth in the world in terms of the chemicals arena, with a market share of USD 170 billion. The plan is to reach USD 300 billion by 2025. Keys to realization could include backward integration at manufacturing facilities, the construction of multi-purpose plants and investments in R&D.
Others indicated the government would do well to encourage manufacturing. They said that manufacturing means investments in land and machinery. That requires long-term commitment, brings in numerous SMEs, and hence generates extra employment.Another observation concerned the split between chemicals manufactured for domestic use and those for export. This currently stands at 50-50, making India one of the largest exporters globally. “This demonstrates Indian companies make quality products that people trust,” said one panellist.
Nevertheless, a recent upturn in imports of chemicals raised concerns. “We must become more independent of raw materials sourced elsewhere. Government should encourage and facilitate India to make its own intermediaries and move up the value chain. India needs to develop specialty products, not just produce generic ones.”
The environment was another hot topic. “We should all consider long-term sustainability and properly assess the impact of chemicals on the environment. However, such discussions should be based on science and logic, not emotions,” said one participant.
Another stated that crops should be produced in a safe, sustainable fashion. Agreeing there is a role for biological crop protection, this speaker said that organic farming alone would be unable to feed a growing population. Highlighting inefficiencies on many Indian farms, he said farmers abroad typically realized significantly higher crop yields.
There was definite optimism and agreement at the end of the session, when talk turned to projected growth from USD 67 to 78 billion in the global crop protection market from 2019 to 2024. Noting that this trend came with associated headwinds and tailwinds, all speakers concurred the country was on the threshold of a great opportunity, one which government and industry should seize.