Here’s how Corteva Agriscience is looking to introduce seed treatments in India
Ravinder Balain, President, South Asia, Corteva Agriscience, speaks about the company’s plans on introducing Seed Applied Technologies (SAT) in India. The company, which is into both seed and crop protection, has plans to introduce best practices in India from other countries as well.
Q: What would be the division between crop protection and seed business?
We have been in India for about 50 years through the footprint of our company. In the seed segment, we operate in key crops – corn, rice, millets, and mustard — and we are in a leadership position in many of those. In the crop protection segment, we have solutions that focus on rice, corn, fruits and vegetables and span the whole gamut of herbicide, fungicide, insecticide and seed treatment categories. India is one of the key growth markets and we are committed to the long term.
Additionally, we offer Seed Applied Technologies (SAT) to provide the solution by coating the seeds with relevant treatment. (Seed treatments involve the application of chemical or biological substances, such as fungicides or insecticides, directly to the surface of a seed, safeguarding the seeds and seedlings against insects, fungal diseases and soil-borne pathogens). Seed treatment is used for paddy and maize crops in Indonesia and it has already been introduced in Thailand and China in the Asia Pacific region. We are gearing up to introduce similar seed-applied technology in India. We have already started field trials with rice farmers and have submitted our products for registration.
Q: What kind of investment has gone in for such development in India?
India is one of the key growth markets and we are committed for the long term. We think of it as a strategic supply base and not just for products. Moreover, we also have one of the best pipelines.
We have been majorly involved in four key crops — corn, rice, millet and mustard. We breed hybrids for all these crops and have our breeding stations in different climatic zones with an advanced research Centre based out of Hyderabad. After breeding a hybrid, it is tested in varying growing conditions at farmers’ fields before getting commercialised. In addition to high levels of hybridisation in corn and millet crops, we are seeing increasing hybridisation in rice and mustard as well. Our unrivalled pipeline of crop protection innovations is designed to deliver solutions with unique differentiation and to enable enhanced crop management. Corteva molecules and formulations feature properties such as low effective use rates, favourable environmental impact and minimal toxicological profile.
We have been partnering with multiple external manufacturing companies across the country, including two figuring in a list of our five key strategic suppliers globally. We would continue to pursue a strategy of both in-house and third-party manufacturing.
Q: Do the R&D centres only cater to India or do they also develop products for other geographies?
In India, we have three manufacturing units, five research and development facilities. The geographical outreach is across states and we deliver services to 10 million farmers and 150 million hectare of farmland in India, including a multi-crop plant breeding research facility in Telangana’s Wargal mandal that serves as our technology hub for both Asia and Asia Pacific.
Q: With climate change being a major threat, what products are being developed to mitigate the same by the company for India?
Corteva hybrid seed varieties help farmers to increase yields, maintain a sustainable supply of food and increase food security. Unlike traditional seeds, these are beneficial for both human health and the environment. These seeds require less water and have a low carbon footprint, allowing farmers to increase overall crop yield and productivity. By using seed technology, farmers can easily increase agricultural productivity and production in response to the rising global food demand.
Developed with sustainability in mind, our unrivalled pipeline of crop protection innovations is designed to address resistance, reduce residuals and work in synergy with our seed products. Corteva molecules and formulations feature properties such as low effective use rates, favourable environmental impact and minimal toxicological profile. We continue to build on two decades of leadership in Green Chemistry — with products such as Jemvelva, Rinskor, Adavelt and others but we are taking our commitment to sustainability even further.
To further address climate change, in 2021, Corteva signed a three-year project with the World Bank Group’s 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) to promote sustainable rice farming on 40,000 acre in Uttar Pradesh.
The project aims to help 50,000 smallholder farmers replace water-intensive rice transplanting methods with Direct Seeded Rice (DSR). It also supports the state government to strengthen sustainability outcomes in rice production, putting emissions reduction, private sector-driven market linkages and agricultural water demand management at the core of sustainable agricultural growth and rural development in Uttar Pradesh.
Corteva is also running AcreNext next-generation rice farming programme in Punjab and Haryana and the water-scarce regions of Bihar. The programme aims at introducing Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) farming methods to improve the productivity and profitability of rice farming in India. Additionally, Corteva in partnership with PRADAN is helping Indian farmers, by replacing short-duration wheat in heavy soil and introducing farm mechanisation which increased household income, without disturbing their food security. This enabled farmers to access high-yield potential maize hybrids that were low-cost and suitable for their climate zone and get higher returns.
Q. How would the company react to the green signal given by the government for the testing of GM mustard in the country and also the use of drones?
The Indian agrochemical industry holds a prominent position on the global stage. India is the fourth-largest producer of agrochemicals in the world and the industry has a huge potential to grow further. India has fundamental advantages and with the right technology, investment and policies, I believe there are tremendous opportunities to unlock for the industry. It is important for the industry to have a future road map for investing or to remain invested in any technology.
Genetically modified crops are a topic of conversation – one we welcome. These crops are vital in helping farmers meet the need for sustainable and innovative solutions in agriculture, all while keeping the safety of humans, animals and the environment in mind. It is why we take the extensive studies and research on genetically modified crops seriously before these crops even make it to regulatory testing. There is no decision on the commercial cultivation of GM food crops yet. However, we are keenly watching for the readiness of the system and continue to engage in the agriculture biotech space with partners across the spectrum – farmers, consumers, legislators and regulators — and welcome the government’s decision. At Corteva, we believe innovation and empowerment go hand in hand. Our focus is always to bring in state-of-the-art technological advancements like drones to empower farmers’ livelihoods and increase their productivity and profitability.
The data-driven crop-management decisions whether it’s the use of AI or drones are all in an effort to boost yield, trim resource costs and improve the sustainability of their land. In particular, AI analyses data streams gathered by an array of field and crop sensors, drones and satellites to help farmers better understand crop and soil health and identify threats, such as pests or fungi, before they can be detected even by experienced farmers.
Moreover, our population is growing and consumers are increasingly demanding food that is healthier for their families and the planet. This means we need to grow more food that is better for people and the environment using fewer resources.