Agri Business

East-West Seeds hopes to train 35,000 farmers in 2020

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on December 30, 2019 Published on December 30, 2019

Bitter gourd farmer of East-West Seeds India

East-West Seeds India (EWSI) is upbeat about enlarging its Knowledge Transfer Programme (KTP), diversifying its portfolio of hybrid vegetable seeds and strengthening its research capabilities in the country.

The KTP, which aims to train about 35,000 farmers during 2020, would demonstrate how quality seeds and improved methods can provide value to farming and raise incomes of small holder vegetable farmers.

The Thailand-headquartered Dutch tropical vegetables seed major, EWS International, whose founder Simon Groot won the 2019 World Food Prize, trained 22,500 farmers in 2019 in Odisha, Maharastra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The $2-million support received from the Netherlands has been a shot in the arm for the project, which is to be expanded to Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttarakhand. Solidarid, SDGP and EWSI are taking part in a project in MP to train 30,000 farmers to adopt good agri practices, post-harvest technology and integrated pest management.

“India is an important market for EWS International and we are constantly firming up plans to expand the bouquet of products, bring the latest technology and serve smallholder farmers,” said Dilip Rajan, its India Managing Director, in an interaction with BusinessLine.

Dilip Rajan, Managing Director, East-West Seeds India

 

The company, which began operations from Aurangabad in 2003, acquired Monsanto’s facilities in the city in 2006. In a span of 15 years it has grown to offer close to 150 varieties, covering 30 crops. Among its top performing vegetable seed hybrids are Arjuna (pumpkin), Naga (ridge gourd), and Palee (bitter gourd).

EWSI employs 1,200 people directly and indirectly in the country, more than 350 of whom are in R&D. Investments are being made in strengthening the five R&D centres, with the main one located in Aurangabad, and production units and warehouses spread across geographies.

The company, which opened an office in Bengaluru, entered Bangladesh recently, says Rajan, a pharma veteran, who joined a year ago to build the company in India and South Asia.

The company is betting on its latest technologies to reduce the time taken from breeding to the commercial market to 18 months from three years earlier. It has set up modern biotech and testing labs in Aurangabad for this.

Officials from East-West Seeds talk to farmers about their produce

Officials from East-West Seeds talk to farmers about their produce

 

 

 

Similarly, its facilities for operations producing seed to sorting, to packing, storing and handling, ensure that losses of the highly perishable vegetables (estimated at 30 per cent) are drastically cut, says, Rajan.

Over the last 25 years, India’s vegetable crop produce has nearly trebled to an estimated 181 million tonnes in FY2018 from 59 million tonnes in FY1992. This growth has been contributed both by an increase in the area under cultivation and improvement in yields. With changing urban lifestyles and consumer preferences, the demand would further accelerate and EWSI hopes to tap this opportunity and is positioning itself appropriately, Rajan says.

The market trends

The Indian market for vegetable seeds is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 9.8 per cent during 2019-2024. ICRA estimates that with the growth in volumes as well as value (on the back of hybridisation), the size of the vegetable seeds industry would double from the current levels to around Rs 8,000 crore.

India is the tenth largest importer of vegetable seeds by value and the seventh largest importer by volume. It accounted for about 1 per cent of the total vegetable seed imports by volume during 2018. Chile, Thailand, Italy, China, New Zealand, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, and the Netherlands are the countries exporting vegetable seeds to India.

The total export of fruit and vegetable seeds in 2018-19 was valued at Rs 84,927 lakh, according to a Seedworld Report published by the Indian Council of Food and Agriculture (ICFA) in 2019.

Published on December 30, 2019
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