With around half the total workforce employed in the sector and a 17% contribution to the country's gross domestic product (GDP), agriculture continues to be a source of livelihood for a majority of Indian families. However, as is evident from the discrepancy between the percentage of people employed and the contribution to GDP, the sector is grappling with several issues and is in dire need for major reforms to boost efficiency and production.
Experts have time and again offered the adoption of newer technology and products as the answer to solving the problems plaguing the sector—be it gauging the weather conditions, choosing the right crop, efficient irrigation, to battling pests and crop diseases. However, the awareness and willingness to adopt newer products and technology among farmers across the country remains lower than desired.
It is this very gap that a joint venture (JV) between Mahindra Agri Solutions , a subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation seeks to close by facilitating free flow of technology from the latter through the former’s well established networks in India.
The JV, which was announced by both companies in Mumbai on Friday, will be called Mahindra Summit Agriscience, with Mahindra holding 60% and the rest by Sumitomo. Both companies refused to reveal the quantum of investment being made by each towards the JV.
Sandeep Gadre, executive vice president of Mahindra Agri Solutions, and the CEO of the new JV said consumption of crop care products in India is at a mere 0.58 kg per hectare—a far cry from the figures in Taiwan (17 kg/ha), China (13 kg/ha), and Japan (12 kg/ha). “Technology-driven crop protection is the way forward,” he said.
Ashok Sharma, MD & CEO of Mahindra Agri Solutions, said that the intent behind signing the JV was to bring in the latest technology needed to solve the problems in the farm sector today and invest in distribution channels to help educate farmers, raise awareness and help them gain access to the products that include pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and biological products.
Gadre added that the JV will focus on rice, grapes, seed potato, potato, and cotton crops, looking for specific solutions to the problems that affect one crop in particular.
Mahindra Agri Solutions currently has 46 products. Through this JV, the company said, it will explore new products. Sharma said from the next year or 2020 onwards, the company will introduce one or two new products every year. “In five to seven years, we expect 10-20 new products coming in to meet the separate needs of farmers,” he said.