Thane-based speciality chemical firm Nichem Solutions has launched a repellant to tackle the pink bollworm in cotton, a menace that is proving to be a big headache for the growers, its Chief Executive Officer Rajan Raje, has said. 

“The repellant is bitter-tasting which results in the bollworm going off the plant. As the leaves turn bitter due to the spraying of repellant, the bollworms cannot survive on them. This helps the plant to grow better,” he said. 

Lack of infrastructure

The company has sold 100 kilolitres of the repellant this year and the results have been good. “We expect a huge improvement next year. The repellant was sold primarily in Maharashtra’s Vidharba region,” the Nichem Solutions CEO said. 

The repellant is sold through its distributor which has its network in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. “We have no infrastructure to market the repellant in Haryana and Punjab,” he said on whether the product was tried in the northern States where pink bollworm was reported this year.  

Cutting pesticide use

The repellant to tackle pink bollworm in cotton is part of Nichem Solutions’ offerings that are perfume- and taste-based to keep harmful insects and pests away from plants, mainly horticulture crops, Raje said.   

“Once these products are sprayed on plants, they remain there and drive away the pests and inspects. This reduces the need for insecticide or pesticide drastically on plants,” the Nichem (derived from niche chemicals) Solutions CEO said. 

Nichem, which has six verticals starting from water purification to polymer additives to consumer products, is focussing on Cropsil, repellants and Plantsil products. The firm offers pre-harvest biocides and fungicides, which are non-toxic and non-conventional, and post-harvest preservation, the company’s CEO said.  

Stress busters

“Our fungicides are based on hydrogen peroxide and silver. They are very strong oxidising agents which dissolve into water and oxygen. The low concentration of silver left behind acts as a protective agent of the plant. Our products do not leave any harmful residues on plants,” Raje said. 

The company also offers insecticides and pesticides that are non-toxic under Gomite brand. “Then, we have nutritional products, which per se help plants overcome water and heat stress. They also improve the immunity of the plant. The product is based on ortho-silicic acid (OSA),” he said. 

Improving productivity

Many of the company’s products are based on natural ingredients. “Many are eco certified or certified for organic farming. Keeping that in mind, we ensure there is no toxicity in any at all be it on soil or water,” he said. 

Nichem offers Plantsil, a mixture of OSA with seaweed, and Cropsil, which helps the plant’s immunity and improves its yield. “Once the plant’s immunity improves, automatically it gives a better yield. We have seen the productivity getting better by 10% to 100%,” the Nichem Solutions CEO said. 

Cropsil is a generic product used in horticulture or floriculture or regular plants. “The use of OSA optimises the uptake of nutrients and fertilisers, making them resistant to stress. This also lowers the use of pesticide and insecticide,” Raje said. 

Controlling ethylene

In post-harvest preservation, Nichem helps control the release of ethylene in fruits, vegetables and flowers. “The preservation will make the release of ethylene gradual and thus increase the shelf or storage or transit life of an agricultural produce. Our products have shown a two-fold increase in the shelf or transit life of fruits even at room temperature,” he said.

 The solution for improving the shelf and transit life is through packaging material, including plastic bags and coatings. “We have developed coatings for corrugated boxes too and have 3-4 different technologies to control the release of ethylene from plants,” Raje said. 

On the pricing, the Nichem Solutions CEO said: “Our products and technologies are priced based on what the user can afford. The end user here will either be a farmer or a trader or an exporter. We are well aware that any pricing 5-10% more is not sustainable. All our technologies typically ensure the prices are within the reach of the common man,” he said. 

International patents

Nichem Solutions, incorporated in 2014, is growing at 30 per cent annually with all its products being developed in-house, under the guidance of Prof VC Malshe, the Chief Technology Officer, who is a polymer scientist and paint technologist.

The company has 3-4 international patents, particularly for its OSA technology in Cropsil, besides Plantsil and other variant products. Nichem has obtained patents for these in Canada, the US and the Netherlands apart from India. “It is registered in almost 30 of the US States and getting registered in South Africa. These technologies have been accepted and approved,” Raje said. 

Nichem Solutions exports Cropsil to Canada, the US, Kenya, the Netherlands and South Africa. “We are doing extremely well in Canada and US,” he said. Going forward, Raje said Nichem sees a positive development in the new generation getting into farming. 

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