Significant Elements of Innovation and Trends in Agro Business

Agro Business

The irony of Indian Agriculture is evident from the fact that 59% of the population is engaged in Agriculture and its allied industry and contribution of Agriculture and Allied sector to GDP is only 16%. Low yield, quality of output and profitability are the biggest challenge among farmers in India. Despite having the highest cropped area in the world, our productivity in key crops continue to be far behind average global productivity.
The green revolution increased the productivity considerably but the yield have become stagnant in recent years, resulting in a significant decline in the income of farmers. Most farmers have poor Crop production knowledge due to non-access to dependable sources of information.  Resource Constraints are also increasing – Land is becoming more fragmented & Water is becoming scarce. Out of 190 Mio Ha cropped area, only 89.3 Mio ha area is having irrigation facility, remaining 100.7 Mio Ha area is still dependant on rains.
Availability of Finance is another issue. A Large chunk of farmers are still dependent on unorganized finance sector leading to high interest rate on credit. This reduces farmer’s profitability to large extent.
Usage of Crop protection chemicals is low in India. Average consumption of pesticides in India is only 0.6 Kg/ ha which is far below average consumption of pesticides in various countries like UK & France -5 kg/ Ha, Korea & USA  – 7 Kg/ Ha, Japan, China and Taiwan 12, 13 and 17 Kg / Ha.  This leads to huge amount of losses to pests. Another issue is post-harvest losses. Upto 16% of Fruits and Vegetable production gets perished after harvest during transportation, storage, handling and never gets consumed.
The Govt. has taken up the initiative of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022. If we want to boost stagnated agricultural growth a shift has to be made, as finance minister Mr Arun Jaitley said in parliament, from food security of the nation to income security of the farmers.
A transition is happening in India from a production-led agriculture to demand-driven agriculture. Agriculture in the past primarily catered to shortages because there was not enough food, but now we are moving to a multi-consumer segment based, demand-driven agriculture. To cater to this type of agriculture, number of innovations is happening in Agriculture which will give boost to production, quality and also to farmers’ income. These are also providing opportunity to Agro-businesses.
Custom hiring
It addresses the issue of farm mechanization for the small scale farmers at an affordable cost thus contributing to high yield, low labor cost, timely cultivation and higher income. Instead of buying the equipment, the farmer can rent it as per his need and convenience. Huge costs are incurred by small farmers to buy farm equipment, which put them in huge debt. Most of the equipment is not used regularly, hence purchasing those blocks the cash flow of the farmers. Zamindara farm solutions operate a large equipment bank which brings together the equipment suppliers and farmers. It operates on a Radio taxi model – an expert is sent with the equipment to get the farm work done as per the requirement.
Mobile platforms
A revolution is going on in Rural India with ownership of Smart phones going up exponentially. This has provided opportunity to companies and Govt. to use digital platform to start host of initiatives. Combination of technology and advanced analytics create timely and useful information. Cropin’s cloud and mobile applications equip agri-business & farmers with tools for data-driven farm management. This includes 100% farm visibility and forecast on Production, monitoring & managing crops pest & disease issue in real time, ensure quality production, procurement, compliance & traceability.
TCS has developed mKRISHI® platform to help farmers benefit from technology interventions in agriculture and allied sectors 99mKRISHI® mobile agro advisory system is a patented mobile based personalized service delivery platform.  Currently, mKRISHI offers a bouquet of agricultural services such as agro advisory, best practices, alert services, weather forecasts, agricultural input aggregation, agri supply chain management services etc.
Bharat Insecticides Ltd has also launched an App called ‘Bharat Kisan App’. Farmers can get information on Safe Use of pesticide and solution to pest problems in this App. They can also contact Crop Advisor for solution to their queries.
Per drop more crop
Only 47% of cultivable area is irrigated in India. Significant amount of water used in conventional irrigation practice is wasted as it is not utilized by plants. Drip irrigation leads to judicious use of water resources as it is applied close to root zone of plant. It also helps in placing the nutrients at the right time in right place which leads to better utilization and significantly increasing productivity. Govt has realized the potential of drip irrigation and is encouraging farmers by providing subsidy to farmers under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana.
Linking the Markets
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched National Agriculture Market portal (eNAM) to connect mandis at pan India level. eNAM is an online inter-connectivity of e-mandis and provides farmers an electronic medium to sell their produce anywhere in India. It is aimed at ushering in much needed agriculture marketing reforms to enable farmers to get better price of their produce.
At times Govt is not able to procure the produce at Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Market prices fall below MSP. To avoid financial loss to farmers, Madhya Pradesh Govt. has come up with Bhavanter scheme wherein farmers get the difference between their selling price and MSP on producing the receipt. This scheme is expected to protect farmers earning and reduce uncertainty.
India is the 2nd largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world. Upto 16% of produce is wasted across various commodity value chains on account of inefficient storage, inadequate logistics and poor post-harvest management. Some emerging trends and areas of innovations in the Cold Chain include broadening focus not just on storage but on end-to-end cold chain process, modernization of existing stores, better and more sophisticated machinery and equipment, setting up of multipurpose cold storages, modern pack houses and ripening facilities, energy efficient and  sustainable new storage technologies. The Ministry of Food Processing Industries and the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare have been actively involved in incentivizing setting up of new cold chain infrastructure across the country. The pan-India focus across perishable segments will ensure actualization of the Government’s commitment of doubling of farmers’ incomes and also addressing the demand-supply gaps in markets.
Made in India Agrochemicals
Many Agro-Chemicals used by farmers are imported. Inspired by ‘Make in India’ initiative many Indian companies are getting into production of Technical (active ingredients) in India. More Agro-Chemicals manufactured in India will help Indian farmers get good quality Agro Chemicals at reasonable price. Bharat Rasayan Ltd (BRL) is one of the leading Technical manufacturing companies in India and has a vision to provide high quality Agrochemicals at affordable price. It is adding capacity gradually.
About the Author
S.N. Gupta is the Chairman of “BHARAT GROUP” comprising of Companies viz. Bharat Rasayan Limited, Bharat Insecticides Limited and BR Agrotech Limited. The Turnover of group Companies is more than Rs. 1400 crores.
He completed his post-graduation in the field of Economics and his areas of specialization are International Business, Overall Marketing Strategy and Corporate Planning.
He is well known for his in-depth knowledge of agriculture, agri-business and agricultural-input markets in India. He is armed with an extensive experience of four decades in the field of manufacturing of pesticides and led the group to achieve unprecedented growth and profits. He is one of the pioneers in this arena in India.
Moreover, Mr. Gupta is a Trustee and an active member of Managing Committee of various Institutions run by Maharaja Agarsen Society. He is also on Board of Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) and Member of Managing Committee of Pesticide Manufacturer and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI). He is also actively participating and contributing a lot to several other social activities.

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