Indian Chemical News spoke exclusively to Rajesh Aggarwal, Vice Chairman, Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) on the sideline of recently concluded 58th AGM of the Federation. During the AGM, the Federation unanimously decided to honour Padam Bhushan awardee Rajju Shroff as Chairman of CCFI. Aggarwal shared his candid views on the challenges faced by the agrochemical sector, PMB, collaborations, and the way forward.
With all sorts of challenges such as the Pesticides Management Bill (PMB), 2020, COVID-19 and new committee at CCFI, is it going to be the continuity with change or paradigm shift at CCFI to give a push to the agrochemicals industry in India?
To talk about CCFI, today is our 58th AGM, which means it is one of the oldest associations and constitutes the companies that are the real players in the country. So we are responsible for 50% of the business, which is happening in India. It is our members holding about 90% of the agrochemical which is going out of India. Therefore, I can say that our focus is Manufacture in India, Make in India, Invent in India and we are the people who spend in R&D and farmer training programmes.
I am very happy that we have found a very dynamic team under the leadership of Mr. Deepak Shah, myself Rajesh Agarwal, Natu Bhai. So I think we will be able to do good service for farmers. The main theme of our association is the Make in India and to bring down the technology products in the reach of common farmers and we should be able to successfully do that.
What about the kind of challenges this industry is facing in terms of perception?
It is a big challenge because our industry, despite being the saviors of crops, is looked down upon. While pesticides should be treated as medicine, it is being treated as poison. Maybe the efficacy is like that but it does not deserve to be considered so bad in the society because ultimately we are ensuring the food safety and we are assuring the margins for the farmers who are working hard in their fields. Yes, I agree that we need to do a lot to improve our image. Our committee has taken a decision to start a programme called, ‘Insecticide Zaroori Hai’ where all the CCFI member companies and even those who are not under our umbrella will participate. Under the initiative, we are trying to create a portal so that we can reach the masses through social media.
Are you trying to take the help of academia and other associations, including that of farmers, to create awareness about agrochemicals? There are also concerns about the duplicate products in the market. What are you doing about that?
There is no denying the fact that pseudo-pesticide or pseudo- biopesticide products do exist in the market. A small share is taken by them and it is a big loss for both farmers and to the country. The government on its part is definitely trying to help through new programmes such as QR code tracking to check the origins of the products which is a very good move. All our members plan to do it and we are going to encourage the same as it will reduce the duplicity from the market. There are a few other challenges such as cheaper imports from China. You have to set up large plants here to counter that. For manufacturing here and backward integration, we will require bigger investments to make the raw materials. For doing that, there has to be surety of business and to compete with cheap Chinese products is indeed a challenge. The efforts are going on in this direction continuously. We have been growing and this year only the exports from our country have increased a lot and we see it doubling in the next three years. And with the type of support we expect from the government, we have been demanding, I still believe that the market size of the agrochemical sector in India is going to improve. That doesn’t mean the quantity of the agrochemical is going to improve. Yet we get the permission to make the new generation molecules, which will be made cheaper in India, will be available to farmers at a particular price, it will increase the market size and chemistries in India will be better.
What is your take on the amendments in the PMB?
We have made our final presentation in front of a parliamentary committee. That is totally confidential and I cannot reveal much on that. However, I can say that we are expecting many reforms and have communicated our demands to the government, particularly as we believe the government can have parallel two acts, the Farmer Act and Food Act. It should be treated at par and not differentiated from each other. If it is done, the Indian manufacturing gets supported because at certain places, the imports are given the preference and formulation imports are also given the preference. If at the same time, manufacturing is given preference, we too have the capability and capacity. We can increase the market share and size and also help the farmer in doubling their income.
What about bringing the agrochemicals under the PLI scheme?
It is the key agenda for the last one and half years. We have been pursuing it very aggressively with the various ministries. We have formed a special committee which is called, Make In India Committee and is working on it strongly. I am very confident that we will receive something very positive from the government in this direction.
Since many associations such as FICCI and CII are working on the agrochemicals policy, is there any effort to bring all of them under one umbrella and create a confederation to give a push to this industry?
Yes, that is something which is highly required by the industry. A few times, the views of the industry are viewed differently due to different representations. There is an importing lobby, there is a manufacturing lobby and others who have differing views but ultimately, the final goals are to help the farmer, increase productivity, increase income from the farming, and to create employment. If all of these are common goals, there should be no room for distortion of words. We have taken a pledge in our AGM that we will try to bring all the associations together to reduce the gaps and there is one voice before the government.
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