Godrej Industries agri business division, Godrej Agrovet, is investing heavily on next generation agriculture and dairy farming practices. From experimenting with nano urea and encouraging its palm farmers to embrace new-age tech-driven farming techniques to working on a breeding project that provides the dairy industry with high yielding cows and improving efficiency of cow feed, the ₹6,000-odd crore company is investing significantly on research.

In an exclusive interaction with Fortune India, Nadir Godrej, chairman, Godrej Industries (GIL) and chairman, Godrej Agrovet, says the big problem for Indian agriculture is lack of scale and that the need of the hour is tech intervention and new methods that could help build scale. Building farmer networks and giving them tips on best-practices is a great way to improve farm efficiency and build scale, believes Godrej. "We are doing it with our oil palm farmers, they are all small holders and there is a lot of improvement. We are getting them to use soil testing technologies, giving them fertiliser advice and how to improve yield. Drones are being used for chemical treatment of plants. IoT is being used to measure exactly how much fertiliser is being used."

Godrej Agrovet is also experimenting with nano urea. "You can use much less urea and have much less pollution. You can not only reduce waste, but also prevent environmental damage. There is a lot of scope," explains Godrej. He is especially excited about the work they are doing on animal feed, which he claims will not only improve yield but also be much more sustainable.

The company has also launched a cow breeding programme in partnership with two Israeli scientists. "They got the best high yielding breeds from the world. The crossbreed's yield is as high as the international level and it has immunity from the surrogate mother. It is really IVF cows," explains Godrej. He says that organisations such as National Dairy Development Board are buying these cross-breed cows from them which are being bred at a farm near Nashik. Even the likes of Nestle India are buying milk produced from these cows at a huge premium.

Though the milk from this farm currently doesn't go to its dairy brand, Jersey, Godrej doesn't rule out the possibility of setting up a farm with these cross-breed cows closer to the manufacturing facilities of Godrej Creamline Dairy (which owns the Jersey brand). "Jersey can't afford the price that Nestle is paying but this is just a breeding farm and there is no reason why we can't take our calves to other farms."

The company is working on improving not just cow feed, but also shrimp and fish feed as well as poultry. "In poultry we have done a lot of research in replacing soyabean which is quite expensive," he explains.

Among other businesses of Godrej Industries, he is particularly upbeat about Godrej Finance. "The finance business is growing steadily, it started with housing finance and we are going to be looking at other verticals, including agriculture." Though the company is not really looking at foraying into new businesses, Godrej says that his existing businesses would become far more sustainable. "In our agri business and our chemical businesses we are looking at more biomass as fuel and also biomass as a possible raw material." He says that Godrej Agrovet is almost carbon neutral, while Godrej Industries would shortly turn carbon neutral too.

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