Webinar for Seed Industry hosted by Gubba Seed Cold Storage

April 22, 2020 Seed

Gubba hosted a webinar about “ Covid-19, Seed Industry Challenges & how to overcome” . looking at the current lockdown scenario and the still in the economy, Gubba has made this attempt to bring key people of the seed industry to access the situation now and future. We had eminent personalities contributing their views and information to the seed men.
The one hour session was moderated by Mr.Ram Koundinya, Federation of seed industry of India. And presented by Mr.Gyanendra Shukla of JK Agri Genetics, Mr.Ramana Rao G V of Ganga Kaveri seeds, Mr.Satish Ganiger of Bisco Biosciences, Mr.Venkatram Vasanthavada of seedworks International, Mr.Venkateshwarlu Yaganti of Corntech Seeds and president of the Seedsmen Association.
Mr.Ram Koundinya has made the opening remarks by engaging that COVID 19 is the greatest public health challenge faced in the last 100 years. Along with doctors, health workers, sanitation workers, police and others who are working on the ground, farmers also should get priority and attention. Agriculture is very important to keep the food supplies going during and after Lockdown, especially in a populous country like India. Seed industry has a huge role to play since it all starts with seed. Seed supplies for Kharif are extremely important because of the volume involved and the importance of Kharif production to the annual production.
How do we make sure that seeds are made available to the farmers in time for Kharif sowing. Crops like Cotton, Rice, Maize, Bajra, Jowar, soybeans, Fodder, Vegetables need 30,000 trucks of seeds in the next 45 days. What is the seed industry doing to make this happen?
Mr.Venkatram has shared that Covid-19 last mile is reaching and connecting the industry requirements. Stock availability in the interior markets is critical for Success which can be achieved by pooling dispatches. He focused on the need to use online platforms and apps in the current scenario to train the teams and use of artificial intelligence to achieve less human interaction.
Mr.Satish has stressed on the importance of safety at the level of plant operations. He has also mentioned about preparing with a plan B considering that the output would be low in march due to loss of workdays. Daily Review to decide on what needs to be packed and dispatched. Cross functional team Sales & Operation Meetings are necessary. Develop monthly cash flow statement afresh taking into consideration the risks and analysing various scenarios
• Budget for additional cost – high plant cost, transportation, etc
• Cost discipline. Avoid discretionary spendings
• Delay Capital Expenditure
• Classify payment in absolutely critical and which can be delayed
• Supply planning to partners who have good payment record. Reassess credit limits
• Plan for bad debts
• Provide financial support to value chain partner if possible
• Renegotiate contracts if possible
• Maintain good relationship with banks – you will need them
• Leverage government assistance
Mr. Ramana Rao has pointed that ‘Uncertainity is the only certainity’ in this situation. He shared that industry is equipped to tackle with known uncertainities but this Covid situation is and unknown uncertainty and its impact is multi dimensional. Challenges are multi dimensional. Packaging, logistics village isolations,restriction of labour movement etc. Industry has successfully completed Wet Ear harvesting and transportation in Maize, Supplementary pollination of Rice, Rouging in paddy, millet and wheat Kharif seed production has to be undertaken. Cotton comes first. Sufficient area and water are available so, there is no need to panic. Technologies like GMS will reduce labour requirement. And reiterated that safety of people is the top most priority.
Mr. Venkateshwarlu explained that 6 lakh tons of seed has to move from South in the next two months. Another 2 lakh tons seed has to move from other states. Issues with road transport amidst lockdown could be a great hindrance. Red Zones may hinder movement for trucks. Railways have stepped up and are offering their services. 50 to 60 goods trains are taking essential commodities. About 1600 to 1800 tons can be loaded into one good train. Industry should make use of this. Companies can pool their volumes and book trains. India Post is starting to carry upto 25 Kg packs for last mile delivery. Retail point management is very important. Avoid congregation of crowds at retail points. Explore delivery of seed to farmers directly by the retailers. Local transports like autos, mini trucks, etc can be used for this.
Mr. Gyanendra stressed on planning well on how to exit lock down. He mentioned that this period can be used to accelerate supply chain processes. Cash flow management will be key. Do not be stingy in paying vendors and seed growers. Take a broader vision and help them by being fair to them. cash flow for farmers from the rabi crop will be extremely important. Use these lessons to diversify production locations. Reduce concentration on one or two states. Increase automation and reduce manpower requirements in production and processing.
Seed Associations have come together in this crisis time and have engaged constructively with the Government. This is a good model and it should continue.
Other conclusions that were derived include

  • Disposal of PPEs after use in the plants should be done carefully through a prescribed biohazard disposal process
  • Toilets in the plants for workers should be of good quality with good fittings and water supply, hand wash provisions, soaps, etc. Special attention is to be paid to this aspect as this could be a source of infection.
  • COVID warriors among industry staff are to be recognized and compensated for their contributions in adverse conditions.
    The webinar saw participation of over 450 seed men and concluded by addressing questions from the audience. We appreciate Seed industry for its tremendous job of keeping the supply lines of seeds going.

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