Syngenta to train 8 lakh farmers, set up 44 reference farms

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Syngenta India, subsidiary of Swiss-based agriculture input major Syngenta AG, plans to roll out an ambitious plan in India to inculcate best farming practices.

The company has identified 44 reference farms focusing on rice, wheat, cotton, corn, tomato, potato and soybean in 15 states including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Haryana and Punjab.

As part of what it calls Good Growth Plan, the company this year will train 800,000 small farmers with less than two hectares on farming techniques and safe use of chemicals on the fields. It is estimated that in India 80 per cent of the farmers own less than two hectares.

In 2009, Syngenta piloted Tegra, an integrated rice growing project that results in 30 per cent yield increase, seven per cent improvement in grain quality and 28 per cent saving in labour. Tegra enable growers to outsource seedling production, addresses key challenge of labour scarcity and provides education to increase productivity.

Davor Pisk, Chief Operating Officer, Syngenta AG in an interaction with the Business Line said the cost for rolling out the project in India has been built with the sales.

“Though the entire programme revolves around the mission to grow more with less input our business is expected to improve due to the enhanced reach,” he said.

Traditionally, Pisk said the farm holding in India is very small and reaching out to so many individual farmers and make them understand the benefits of best practices in their own tongue is going to be a key challenge.

This apart, he said, farming in India is dependent on seasonal rainfall which is becoming more and more unpredictable. Irregular rainfall has enhanced the risk profile of farmers as failure or less than expected rainfall results in huge loss as farmers have to spend substantial sum in preparing the farm before monsoon sets in.

“Poor water management in many countries has resulted in land degradation in irrigated areas through salinization and water logging. This can cause 10 to 25 per cent drop in yield in many crops and may prevent cropping altogether when it is severe,” he said.

The company has created MaxVeg, a tried and tested solution for farmers growing vegetable. It is working with farmers on cauliflower, hot pepper, tomato and watermelon in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.

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