New Delhi: The role of crop protection science and agri-biotechnology for enhanced crop production was emphasised when the leading Indian and international companies got together to change the name of their trade association to CropLife India. Union Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh launched the association at a function here yesterday.
Singh lauded the efforts of the crop protection and agri-biotech industry in forming the organisation, CropLife India, to adopt a comprehensive approach for sustainability of crops, including the impact on human life and environment. He also assured the industry of all support in their move towards fighting the menace of spurious pesticides.
The minister informed that the government is currently considering a new pesticide, ACT, under which it would be compulsory for all dealers to have qualified dispenser, who will, in turn, advice the farmers on the right choice and method of usage.
CropLife India will work to promote education and new agro-tech practices among the small and medium farmers, with a view to provide them with a sustainable agrarian model. CropLife has been formed by leading research and development oriented plant science companies, which together account for over 70 per cent of the Rs 4,000-crore crop protection industry in India.
Indian agriculture has the daunting task of feeding and clothing 16 per cent of the world's population on less than 2 per cent of the total landmass. With already 190 million hectares of gross cultivated area, the scope for bringing new areas under cultivation is severely limited. Thus, the growth will have to come from increased productivity.
In addition, economic considerations are leading to the withdrawal of subsidies and a more competitive agrarian economy. Thus, Indian farmers will need to adopt scientific techniques of crop protection to enhance productivity and make agriculture sustainable.
CropLife India will promote a more holistic and scientific approach to crop protection by disseminating the benefits of scientific research to the local farmers, educating them on modern agricultural practices that not only make Indian agriculture self-reliant in the short term, but rewarding in the long term. In line with these objectives, CropLife India has identified major areas of focus:
- Safe and judicious use. Training farmers on safe and judicious use of crop protection and pesticide products.
- Integrated pest management. Educating farmers on the technological choices requiring less input per unit of output.
- Environmental protection. Conducting business with due respect to environment.
- Intellectual property rights. Transferring technology with meaningful protection.
- Code of conduct. Adhering to the common code of conduct for all members.
- Communications. Building the confidence among farmers, consumers, researchers and regulators in plant science industry through positive communication.
- Fight against spurious pesticides.
Speaking at the inauguration, P K Mazumdar, executive director, Syngenta, and founding chairman, CropLife India, said: "Agriculture and food production - and the development of consumers' attitudes - are complex and inter-related. The formation of CropLife India signals an important step to establish an identity and more importantly, to reflect the changing nature of the sector from chemical crop protection to the plant science industry."
Explaining the focus of the new association and the chosen name, S Kumarasamy, vice-chairman of CropLife India and CEO, BASF India, said: "The name incorporates the word CropLife reflecting the purpose of the association, which would represent the plant science industry including the crop protection chemical industry and pesticide industry. The companies behind the association are committed believers in the promise of innovative technologies, listening carefully to stakeholders' concerns as part of safe and sustainable crop production."
Members of CropLife India are at the forefront in introducing new molecules for crop protection, public health and for veterinary purposes. Additionally, members are pioneering research in plant genetics and biotechnology for improving crop productivity. The members of the association are: BASF India, Bayer CropScience India, Cheminova India, DE-NOCIL Crop Protection, EI DuPont India, Excel Industries, Indofil Chemicals Company, Isagro (Asia) Agrochemicals, Monsanto India, Rallis India, Shaw Wallace Agrochemicals and Syngenta India.
The plant science industry invents, develops, manufactures and sells safer and newer crop protection chemicals designed to improve the national production of food, feed, fibre and other useful products in a sustainable way. The industry performs this mission while following the highest ethics and standards and providing safeguards for human health and the environment. The industry actively pursues transparency in its business activities by addressing concerns of all stakeholders.
It is estimated that more than between 15-30 per cent of the total agricultural production is lost to pests, enhancing the urgent need for concerted efforts for effective crop protection. CropLife India will, therefore, undertake training, education and awareness programmes aimed at promoting safe and judicious practices in crop protection.
In addition, CropLife India will also spearhead a pilot project currently underway in the state of Andhra Pradesh, which is aimed at bringing about a behavioural change and help inculcate the habit of safety while using crop protection products.
To benefit from worldwide trends and developments CropLife India has become an affiliate of CropLife International, the Brussels-based federation of the global plant science industry, which, through its network of 75 regional and national associations, is responsible for the implementation of the FAO Code of Conduct on use of crop protection chemicals.