May 27, 2013

BASF to establish global research centre in India next year


BASF Crop Protection division has proposed to set up its second global research & development (R&D) centre in India soon.


This R&D hub in the region is part of BASF global commitment to agriculture by investing in Asia Pacific, Raman Ramachandran, Senior Vice-President, BASF Crop Protection-Asia Pacific, said.


The centre will be opened in the early part of next year near Mumbai, he told Business Line on the sidelines of the BASF agro global press conference in Singapore. However, he refused to reveal the investment details. BASF had also initiated a global agro research station in Pune last year, which will be operational soon, he said.


Referring to Samrudhi programme, the local business grower model of BASF, he said the company has identified a series of crops to improve farmers' livelihood. In 2012, Samrudhi soy farmers achieved an average of 25% more yield and 36% high net profit than non-programme farmers.


Currently, 180,000 soy farmers are under the programme. The other crops covered included potatoes, onion, black gram, ground nut and over 220,000 farmers are participating in the programme, he said.


The younger generation is now focussing more on speciality crops such as grapes and started receiving better returns. To a question on conversion of agriculture land, Ramachandran said 195 million hectares of cultivated land existed.


BASF is looking at a set of farmers with Samrudhi as base to extent all possible solutions to improve their yields and get better returns, he added. BASF Crop Protection division has plans to spend €300 million (US$388 million) annually over the next few years on additional production capacities. These investments are to support food availability in Asia-Pacific and around the world more broadly, Markus Heldt, President, BASF Crop Protection Division, has said.


Addressing the BASF Agro global press conference in Singapore, Heldt said in 2008-12, the Crop Protection division's R&D expenditures have grown annually by 7% on an average, from €325 million (US$420 million) to €430 million (US$556 million).


BASF aims to introduce new technologies, broadening farmer education and co-creation initiatives, increasing investments in production capacity and R&D as well as collaborating with food value chain partners.


Raman Ramachandran, Senior Vice-President, BASF Crop Protection Asia Pacific, said BASF would build a new formulation and packaging plant for crop protection products in Rudong in China. The plant with an annual capacity of 10,000 tonnes is expected to be fully operational in 2014.


"The site will cover nearly our entire solution portfolio, which will enable us to respond much more quickly and efficiently to growers needs in China and South-East Asia", he said.


Peter Warr, Australian National University College of Asia and the Pacific, said food production in Asia Pacific is facing huge challenges with the most rapidly increasing population, strong demand growth and continued urbanisation.


"Food security is back on the global agenda. Enhancing food security requires reducing the relative price of food, reducing poverty, and raising productivity through improved agricultural technology", he said.


According to Ramachandran, BASF would expand its globally successful AgCelence portfolio for plant health in more than 10 additional crops especially fruits and vegetables in Asia Pacific by 2015. AgCelence is well established in India, China, Indonesia and Vietnam and BASF will expand it to other markets in the region to improve farming efficiency, he said.


BASF is a leading chemical company in the world. The Crop Protection division, with sales around €4.7 billion (US$6.1 billion) in 2012, provides innovative solutions in crop protection, turf and ornamental plants, pest control and public health. It also provides technologies for seed treatment and biological control as well as solutions to manage water, nutrients and plant stress.