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Monsanto focusing on cheaper techs in India

Hybridisation, less controversial methods being adopted

BS Reporter  |  Bangalore 

India, which now contributes barely 2 per cent of Monsanto's global revenues of $14-15 billion, is being considered an important market. by the company.

The US-based seed agrinomics major, which has been facing a storm over its genetically modified crops, like Bt cotton and Bt brinjal, is now focussing on non-controversial technologies like hybridisation in developing vegetables that have better productivity and shelf life.

But, the company is focussed on bringing in technologies that are cheaper to develop so that it can recover the cost of development as India remains a low volume and low cost market. Hence, the company sees if its worth it to bring in a technology. The cost of developing a technology could range from $175 mn to $250 mn, Monsanto said.

Additionally, the company also focuses on better crop management practices to improve productivity and produce vegetables with longer shelf life. Monsanto's global revenues from selling vegetable seeds is $821 million and India today contributes less than 5 per cent of it, according to Gyanendra Shukla, CEO India Region, Monsanto.

Shukla was speaking to Business Standard at its breeding station for research in hybrid seeds spread over 117 acres in Chikkaballapur district near Bangalore.

The centre is focussed on developing and testing new hybrid varieties of maize, tomatoes, watermelon, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, pepper, onions and beans with R&D labs, field trials and greenhouses under one roof.

In addition to selling the seeds produced at the centre in the local market, the centre also sells its seeds in countries like Vietnam and Philippines as it is able to mimic the climatic conditions prevalent there.

On the controversy over the alleged falling productivity of Bt cotton variety developed by Monsanto, Shukla said, with Bt cotton having helped increase productivity of cotton from 250 kg to 450-500 kg an acre, any further increase can come only with technological improvements.

First Published: Thu, April 24 2014. 20:37 IST