FMC has been providing India’s farmers access to world-class product: Ravi Annavarapu, President, FMC India

  • June 07, 2022

What are the global trends in the crop protection and crop care business and how it will impact India?

The demand for crop protection products globally will continue to increase due to the decreasing arable land and urgent need for addressing food security. The world crop protection market including India has been undergoing transformation in response to the changing crop mix trends and regulations.

Surging population and subsequently rising demand for food, feed, and biofuel has also been contributing towards growth. The enhanced consciousness for the environment is creating preference for safer and more sustainable crop protection solutions.

Key milestones achieved by FMC India in FY 2021-22?

FMC has emerged as one of the leaders in the crop protection industry in India riding on its innovative and industry leading products such as Coragen, Benevia, Authority NXT, Marshal etc. Apart from such high-performance products, FMC engages with more than two million farmers annually to empower them on sustainable agricultural best practices every year. The company has one of the strongest pipelines of products that are customized to offer differentiated solutions to Indian farmers for their present and future needs. Beyond business imperatives, FMC has also carried forward its commitment to making a difference to the lives of rural families by investing in four key areas: safe water and good health, good agricultural practices, science in agriculture, and empowering women in agriculture.

Globally, crop protection and crop care companies' focus is shifting away from being a products company to a solutions company. What's your strategy in India?

FMC corporation is a global leader com[1]mitted to furthering sustainable agriculture through sustainable crop protection and crop nutrition solutions. FMC has been providing India's farmers access to world-class product technologies, in support of the country's aspiration to be the world's leading agricultural producer. We develop, market, and sell all major classes of crop protection chemicals - insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and crop nutrition products. The company is significantly investing in developing and offering a suite of crop solutions customised to benefit Indian farmers across multiple crops, supported by a best-in-class pipeline of products and stewardship. 100% of our R&D investment is being dedicated to developing innovations that are sustainability advantaged.

The company aims to deliver products that not only help to maintain a safe and se[1]cure food supply, but with minimal impact on the planet. Additionally, we are venturing into technology solutions like Arc Precision Agriculture tools and drones, etc. to enable precision farming in the country.

What’s the latest on the company's R&D initiatives? When are you planning to commercialize the new molecules?

FMC's R&D team of more than 800 scientists and associates are guiding one of the most robust discovery and development pipelines in the agricultural industry. FMC also uses external collaborations, partner[1]ships and investments to enhance the diversity of the research efforts. We have invested in – and partnered with – companies that complement our own efforts. Every year we reinvest 8% of our revenue towards R&D globally.

At FMC, we believe every product must meet the sustainability expectations of key stakeholders. We are guided by FMC's sustainability goals to dedicate 100 percent of R&D investments to develop more sustain[1]able products. We discover and synthesize new molecules with differentiated modes of action to control pests that may challenge growers. We focus on molecules that can meet stringent future regulatory requirements and criteria for a successful, competitive commercial product. We screen more than 60,000 compounds annually. FMC’s global pipeline contains 35 new active ingredients (AIs) of which 20 are new modes of action Active Ingredients.

FMC has one of the global innovation centres in Hyderabad which focuses on creating solutions in keeping with local needs. FMC plans to launch more than 10 new products in the coming 3-5 years, which include many new modes of action chemistries across all segments such as Insect control, disease control, weed control, and plant health business.

Projects and products where the company is investing in FY 2022-23? What's the Capex plan for FY 2022-23?

As we just said, FMC India plans to launch more than 10 new products in the next 3-5 years. We recently launched a new research-based insecticide Corprima to support tomato and okra farmers across the country, which offers superior crop protection against fruit borers, one of the bigger pain points for Indian farmers. We are also looking at launching 4-5 more new products through the course of this year to provide relevant solutions to Indian farmers.We already have a significant manufacturing footprint in India and the company is committed to progressively invest in India.

Aligned to the larger Make in India initiative, FMC continues to support manufacturing in India for both Indian and global markets, including some high end innovations such as Isoflex at Panoli site. The company is continuously evaluating the Capex investment to augment site capacities and bring in new molecules manufacturing capabilities in India locations. We are fully committed to and invested in India.

What's your focus on new technologies like drones and others?

We deeply appreciate the proactive and favorable decisions taken by the Indian government to pave the way for early adoption of drones in agriculture. Globally, drones have proven their efficacy in fertilizing and protecting crops more efficiently. In 2022, we expect to see action on the ground with many commercial ventures making an effort to further enhance input use efficiency in agriculture. We are continuously conducting trials in the country and look forward to supporting farmers to apply crop protection solutions more effectively, efficiently and in a safe and judicious manner using drones. We look forward to having multiple label claim expansions using drones for our premium products across multiple crops approved during the year 2022-23.

FMC has been continuously investing in advancing novel technologies in agriculture. The company's unique technologies from its Precision Agriculture portfolio are designed to ensure the right crop protection products are applied exactly where and when they are needed to increase sustainability, as well as optimize yield quality and quantity while improving Return on investment for farmers. We plan to bring many of these technologies for the benefit of Indian farmers in near future.

FMC strategy is to have 50% women workforce by 2027 across all regions and job levels. How are you planning to achieve it in India?

FMC, being a global Company, has a diverse workforce and diverse Culture. Therefore, to achieve the target of having 50% women workforce by 2027 across all regions and job levels, the strategies need to be formed in abidance of law of the land and local conditions. Multiple initiatives are being undertaken at different touchpoints of the ‘employee lifecycle’ to achieve our goal - All these initiatives, under Project ‘Pratibha’, include hiring women talents from leading campuses, encouraging women in science via the FMC Science Leadership Scholarship program at leading universities, and ensuring the right representation of women candidates is present during the hiring process. Additionally, FMC as an organization is working towards building capacity in the agriculture industry through various on-ground training, including more women in diverse roles across the company.

FMC has done pretty well on sustainability. Sustainability projects planned by FMC India in FY 2022-23?

Sustainability being one of our key focuses, FMC is committed to make agriculture and farming sustainable and towards this, FMC will continue to educate farmers on sustainable agronomic practices for growing crops with soil, water and crop protection stewardship, along with increased input use efficiency.

At manufacturing level, we are looking to further reduce our environmental footprints, having already achieved Zero Discharge status for our sites at Panoli, enhanced share of our energy requirement coming from renewable sources, addressing process efficiencies and recycling equivalent quantities of plastic that we use in packing our products. Apart from this we plan to further strengthen our engagement with farming communities through more intense product stewardship training, promoting concrete actions to promote diversity and inclusion.

FMC’s efforts under Project Samarth, which deals with providing access to safe water to farming families, recently got recognition at the inaugural Water Sustainability Awards, hosted by TERI-IWA-UNDP jointly.

FMC has been successfully running project Samarth across Uttar Pradesh and Punjab to provide safe and potable water to farmer communities. Last year we expanded the program to southern states including Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. This year we will be expanding the project to Western India including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. We are committed to improving the living standards of the farming communities through this initiative.

Note: This interview has also been published on Chemical Industry Outlook 2022 and here's the link to view full version of the annual compendium.

The company is significantly investing in developing and offering a suite of crop solutions customised to benefit Indian farmers