We had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Kevin Helash, CEO, Agrinos and Indranil Das, Executive Vice President, Eastern Europe & Asia Pacific, Agrinos. Read on to find out more about Kevin and Indranil’s role within Agrinos as well as discovering their expert view on the growth outlook for biological crop inputs across the global market.
As Chief Executive Officer, my role is to provide strategic leadership for the company by working with the board of directors and the executive management team to establish long-range goals and business development strategies that deliver organizational growth and bottom line profitability. My career in the agricultural industry began 27 years ago with Agrium in Canada. I held a series of sales and senior management roles with Agrium in both the Retail and Wholesale business units, including Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Distribution for Agrium’s global business. Immediately prior to joining Agrinos, I was Managing Director of Agrium Retail Canada.
My role with Agrinos is Executive Vice President, Eastern Europe & Asia Pacific. My responsibilities include regional business development, strategic planning, supply chain management and sales for our commercial business units operating in eastern Europe and Asia. Prior to Agrinos, I held roles in sales and business management at Chemtura Corporation, Dow AgroSciences India and Zeneca/Syngenta India.
What is the growth outlook for biological crop inputs across the global market?
Helash: Growth in the agricultural biologicals market is occurring on a global basis. We anticipate double-digit growth over the next 5 to 10 years, and continued validation of the production and sustainability benefits of this category of products is fueling widespread adoption by farmers.
The ag biological market is projected to grow by eight billion dollars over the next 5 years, from $6.75 billion last year to $14.65 billion in 2023. That represents a double-digit growth rate and is one of the highest in the agriculture sector. I believe the biggest challenge for the industry will be keeping up with demand.
Indranil: When we look at the biostimulant market in terms of crop type and projected growth, we see very even growth across the board. On average, the projected compounded annual growth rates for row crops, fruits and vegetables is more than 10 percent. It’s significant to note that row crops are projected to be the fastest growing segment over the next five years. Government promotion through favorable policies and registration processes, especially in emerging markets, can present opportunities for building a strong market position for agricultural biologicals.
How are Agrinos technologies and products providing solutions to current challenges facing global agriculture?
Helash: From an agronomy standpoint, adding microbials and biostimulants helps to regenerate and improve soil health and leads to improved plant health, growth and productivity resulting in higher yields and increased crop quality. From an environmental standpoint, the benefits of using microbials and biostimulants include increased fertilizer efficiency and reduced run-off, reduced CO2 emissions produced by the farm, better water utilization and reduced water usage.
Food companies are increasingly looking to source supplies from farms using sustainable farm management practices. Consumers are also increasingly demanding food products that are grown in an environmentally sustainably manner. Many Agrinos are products are allowed for use in organic production because they are naturally derived, meaning they are not developed with synthetic chemicals like many crop inputs including fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.
Indranil: Without a more sustainable farming solution that regenerates soil health, current agriculture practices will be challenged to meet the intensifying demands to feed a growing global population. One of the areas in which Agrinos aims to increase agricultural output is by restoring microbial health to the soils farmers use. In addition, our R&D department is focused upon developing new and innovative ways to increase plant health and vigor by creating new products in the biostimulant and biopesticide categories to ensure we can deliver a full suite of products to the market.
What can industry do to help farmers and growers adopt more biological based products?
Helash: Farmers are already well aware of the need for increasing the productivity of their land. They are also well aware that consumers around the world are looking for food that is produced with fewer chemicals. That’s where the ag biological market comes into play. Our industry helps traditional products work better, thereby allowing growers to produce more while using the same or less traditional chemical crop inputs. It’s a win-win for everyone.
From our standpoint, generating real field data on the performance of our products is fundamental to our success. We believe any crop input recommendation needs to be based upon science and Agrinos has one of the largest efficacy databases in the industry when it comes to replicated scientific data. Agrinos has conducted trials across the globe to measure and quantify the yield and production improvements. We share that data with farmers, as well as data on the environmental and sustainability benefits associated with incorporating microbial and biostimulant products.
Indranil: Agrinos recently celebrated the successful outcome of its collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley in support of the Smart Village Project in India. Through the partnership, Agrinos’ portfolio of biostimulants was made available to Smart Village farmers in five districts of Andhra Pradesh following product training. The agricultural inputs, which feature Agrinos proprietary HYT® (High Yield Technology), were subsequently offered online to growers throughout India via a regional distributorship that was also a partner in the Smart Village Project. We also facilitated in-field training programs and coordinated field trial demonstrations to show the value of Agrinos products on key crops including tomato, groundnut, marigold and mulberry. Product samples were provided to the villages based on crop availability, cultivation practices and farmer interest.
How do you make sure that Agrinos is at the forefront of microbial and biological crop input innovation?
Helash: It starts with a commitment to be an innovative leader in our space. We have attracted some of the best talent in the industry and, along with our corporate mission to continue to invest in agricultural R&D, we have developed an extremely robust pipeline of products in the biological, biostimulant and biofertilizer space, and we are working on commercializing products in the biopesticide market as well.
It’s all very important work because the world needs innovative and sustainable solutions to increase agricultural output and meet the needs of our growing global population. I’m confident the Agrinos team will continue to deliver solutions that make a positive difference.