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The buzz around India as the premier alternative hub for agrichemicals has only grown stronger in the past 18 months. But does the country’s industry have what it takes to compete with China on a grand scale, not only in the near term but in the days and months and years after China’s environmental clean-up is complete?

Or maybe the question is not about how — or if — it can make the quantum leap to competing head to head with China, plant inspections and closures or not. Maybe it’s about learning from the turmoil of the last 18 months and evolving as an industry into one that can truly work together.

Indian Agrochemicals Market Shifts from Transactional to Collaborative Partnerships

Precision agriculture is going to be farm driven and a faster, harder change than anybody believes.

The questions the industry faces is, How are we going to help it happen so we can be part of that change?

 

What are we doing to help that value chain, whether it’s through original equipment manufacturers, chemical manufacturers, new service models, push through manufacturing? What does that (new) value chain look like?

The solutions that will be successful will have integrate into the existing technology. It’s not the OEMs that have that know how. It will be the members of the crop input supply chain that will have to provide it. 

The other drivers could come from government, consumer demands, labor issues, residues, and the need to track inputs to understand land loss and soil health. Finally, the push could come from regulatory authorities or even supermarket chains appeasing their customers. 

Precision Application is Coming Faster than Anyone Thinks

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The challenges facing the crop input industry are straightforward, but the solutions aren’t necessarily simple. Sourcing and the related issue of pricing continue to be major concerns as the industry also contends with the U.S.-China trade war, concern over the future of U.S./India relations, product bans, and weather.

So, what are importers to do?

Continued uncertainty vis-a-vis China, from an environmental point of view as well as tariffs, is a concern. There are also concerns about a possible breakdown in the trading relationship with India.

That uncertainty ripples throughout the supply chain. The continued price fluctuations and non-availability of some products due to the ongoing disruptions in key raw material supplies.

Much of that worry comes from the disruptions and reorganization going on in China due to the crackdown on companies violating environmental regulations.

Stephen Pearce, Director, AWP Associates and Bancella Ltd., listed five factors that could disrupt the current import situation:

  1. More supplier-backward integration and consolidation of manufacturing base in China.

  2. A diminishing role and place for certain types of traders.

  3. A wait-and-see mindset related to U.S. purchases based on electoral aspiration of the current administration and a potentially softening position with China.

  4. Ongoing revocation of active ingredients in Europe.

  5. Move toward alternate methods for burndown in Brazil based on the paraquat ban. Alternate option development for desiccation in Europe based on the diquat ban.

Importing Insight from the Global Crop Inputs Industry

One has to wonder if Bayer executives are regretting their decision to buy glyphosate. Currently the product is so pervasive, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the industry (and of course growers) to simply stop using the product.

But it’s certainly easy to see regulatory opposition to the product growing.

In Europe, three countries carry weight, France, Germany, and UK. Most of Europe wants to keep glyphosate, but the EU will look at it again and science will hopefully prevail.

Impact of the Glyphosate Verdicts

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Regenerative agriculture is the latest buzz in responsible agricultural management. It is similar to conservation farming in that it combines the use of stubble retention, crop rotation and the minimum disturbance of the soil to promote soil health, but is on a higher level as it also incorporates the use of cover crops, compost teas, compost and manure (to avoid using synthetic fertilisers), pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

While having the same aims, it moves beyond the simple definition of ‘organic’ and ‘biological’ production, aiming not only to replace chemical inputs with so-called natural inputs, or to improve microbiological diversity, but to adapt farming practices to what is happening in and around the plant, and to essentially mimic rather than work against nature.

Learning about regenerative agriculture

Soil erosion is a natural process, but the rate at which it is occurring due to the impact of human intervention is unsustainable.

Conservation agriculture (CA) can reduce soil erosion, and by making use of existing research South Africa will be able to save millions of hectares of land that are required for food production to feed the increasing population.

This was according to Michael Kidson, chief research technician at the Agricultural Research Council’s (ARC) Institute for Soil, Climate and Water.

“Top soil is important for planting and germination of seed, [and is] the most fertile part of the soil. The reality is that restoring degraded soils is a slow process. To form a centimetre of a layer of soil takes a 100 plus years,” he said.

The role of conservation agriculture in reducing soil erosion