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It's hard to overstate the vital importance of agriculture to the Indian economy. In FY19-20, the agri sector accounted for about 18% of the country's GDP and employed over 50% of the total population. India is a multi-product agricultural powerhouse. In fact, no other country grows as many food and non-food crops. The domestic production of modern inputs such as high-yielding seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, farm equipment and improved communication systems have all contributed immensely to India becoming a global force in agriculture.
Mahindra has been inextricably linked to Indian agriculture from its earliest days and this connection was only strengthened with the establishment of Mahindra Agri whose simple yet compelling vision is to 'Deliver Prosperity to Farmers to Help Them Rise'. The company does this through technology-enabled products, services and other initiatives that deliver real-world solutions to millions of farmers, helping them grow their incomes over time.
This approach is aligned with Mahindra's Rise philosophy that seeks to drive positive change in the lives of all its stakeholders. Through the Group's farm equipment business, which is the world's largest tractor manufacturer by volume, Mahindra has been working closely with farmers for decades and is their most trusted supplier of farm mechanisation products and solutions.
Mahindra Agri is helping the Group to shape a new paradigm of becoming a leader in the agri value chain for the Indian farmer through a portfolio of businesses. The company has several verticals and it offers high-quality, R&D based agri-input products while also helping India's fruit farmers reach a global customer base.
Over the past decade, the focus of the agri business has been on bringing global technologies to the country for the benefit of Indian farmers through multiple partnerships. In its crop care business, the company has a joint venture with the Sumitomo Corporation of Japan, giving it access to several unique agri-chemicals. Similarly, for the seed potatoes business, it has a JV with HZPC of the Netherlands, who are leading global players in the industry.
Further, Mahindra Agri has partnered with Top Greenhouses, Israel and helped bring global greenhouse and net-house technology to Indian farmers at competitive prices. The company also works with Keygene, of the Netherlands, whose proprietary technology is helping in the genetic improvement and launch of hybrid seeds with the best traits in the industry.
The company has also been investing in building a Mahindra Quality Assurance backed supply chain and production system. This includes a world-class aeroponics plant in Mohali where it grows virus-free seed potatoes in a soil-less environment. For its fruit exports business, it has a state-of-the-art packhouse in Nashik. Similarly, for the micro irrigation business, the company has decentralised its operations across Nashik, Vadodara and Coimbatore to service Indian farmers faster across the country.
Sustainable growth has been the nucleus of Mahindra's agri strategy. The focus on the planet and people is as important as profitability for the company. The micro irrigation business showcases this philosophy in action, helping farmers reduce their irrigation cost by 30% and water usage by 50%, all while improving productivity by over 30%. This business has significantly contributed towards making the Mahindra Group a water-positive organisation.
The efforts made to bring in advanced new products and deliver the highest quality through state-of-the-art facilities has been complemented by an excellent sales and service team. Mahindra Agri serves over 4 lakh farmers currently and aims to touch the lives of over one million (10 lakh) farmers over the next three years.
One of the key pillars of the Mahindra Group has been its 'Alternative Thinking' approach to business. The company's crop care business showcases this philosophy to perfection, by conceptualising, formulating and launching Mahindra's 'B-Safe' brand of hand sanitisers in just three weeks when the Coronavirus pandemic hit the country in March 2020 and the production of sanitisers and masks became the need of the hour. Mahindra quickly repurposed its agri-chemical formulation facility in Gujarat and converted its production systems to handle the manufacturing of hand- sanitisers despite the constraints of a country-wide and highly stringent lockdown that made operations very difficult.
Another important pillar of the Rise philosophy is 'Driving Positive Change'. Mahindra Agri's fruit export business is a great example of this. Over 800 grape farmers in Maharashtra have gained immensely from the Mahindra grape export business. The company has helped them improve their exportable yield of grapes through measures that enhance quality while also giving them access to lucrative new foreign markets in Europe and elsewhere.
For many of these grape farmers, a 2X to 3X growth in income has been a reality after their association with Mahindra. Take, for example, the case of farmers in the Baramati region who collaborated with Mahindra Agri. After a subdued exports season in 2018, Mahindra Agri worked with these farmers and enabled them to produce high-quality black grapes in an industry where the majority grew white grapes. Further, the company helped these farmers find the right markets by expanding into previously underexplored markets like China and Malaysia.
Madhukar Kisan Zhagade, Baramati - Maharashtra
"Due to Mahindra, a farmer like me was able to plant two new plots of grapes, and this year I converted from being a marginal to a small land-holding category farmer."
Somnath Vasant Thombre, Baramati - Maharashtra
"Mahindra has not only positively impacted my life, but they brought a positive impact in the lives of the majority of grape growing farmers in Bori village. Mahindra's constant efforts enabled me to increase exportable yields by 80%."
Umesh Kumar Choudahary, Bharaich - UP
"I am using MP 3030 rice from Mahindra from past 3-4 years. The paddy from this seed has good sized grains. Further, the disease resistance is good. My pesticide expenses have also reduced."
Parappa Gama, Bagalkot - Karnataka
"I have been using irrigation systems of Mahindra EPC. Using drip irrigation I have benfitted by getting higher yield and almost three times the income by growing organic turmeric."
Mahindra Agri aims to create a lasting and meaningful impact on the lives of Indian farmers, communities and the nation at large. If India is to achieve its target of a $5 trillion GDP by 2024, the agri sector in India must grow by more than 10% annually. Through a continued focus on global technologies, the trust and assurance of brand Mahindra and with the expertise of its passionate workforce, Mahindra Agri aims to contribute significantly to the growth of the Agri sector in the coming decades.
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