Beyond disease resistant and high yield varieties of vegetables, EWS hopes to improve smallholder farmer productivity by implementing unique and cost-effective innovations such as spun-bound approach, Protec etc.
East-West Seed group (EWS), a Dutch-owned tropical vegetable seed company, is expanding its business in the Indian market by introducing innovative technologies for high-yielding vegetable seed varieties and aims to become one of the top five vegetable seed companies by 2021. The privately-owned company produces and markets a wide portfolio of hybrid and open-pollinated seeds and its primary business is centered on smallholding farmers who form a majority for producing vegetable seeds.
“East-West Seed India is poised to capture significant market share driven by our dual approach targeting new markets and new varieties. In 2020, we will be launching new varieties of tomato, okra and hot pepper and planning to introduce innovative technologies beyond disease resistant and high yielding vegetable varieties,” Dilip Rajan, MD, East-West Seed India, said. The company is projecting 15% CAGR and aims to become one of the top five vegetable seed companies by 2021.
“Our goal of knowledge transfer work is to honour traditions while showing farmers how hybrid seeds and improved methods can provide even more value,” he added. EWS is a global leader in the tropical vegetable seeds market with three-and-a-half decades of experience in breeding, producing and delivering high-quality vegetable seeds. Founded by Simon Groot, winner of the World Food Prize 2019, the company is ranked number one in the 2019 Global Access to Seed Index, which recognises the commitment and performance in providing the smallholder farmers access to quality seeds.
“Our approach to breeding is unique as we look at highly specific local factors and breed particular varietals with those factors in mind,” he said. “Consequently, we are working closely with the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bangalore, Indian Institute of Vegetable Research in Varanasi and collaborating with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore and Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana besides Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centres (AVRDC), Taiwan,” he said.
Rating agency Icra estimates that with the growth in volumes as well as value on the back of hybridisation, the size of the vegetable seeds industry would double from the current levels to around Rs 8,000 crore in the next five years, registering a CAGR of around 10%. As against general nutrition guidelines, recommending average per capita consumption of 110kg of vegetables per annum, the production in the country is adequate at the per-capita level of around 140 kg per annum. However, there is still a relative shortfall of vegetables in meeting the required nutritional needs of the population due to mismanagement at various levels.
Beyond disease resistant and high yield varieties of vegetables, EWS hopes to improve smallholder farmer productivity by implementing unique and cost-effective innovations such as spun-bound approach, Protec etc. Farmers have been beset with sucking pest attacks such as aphids, whiteflies, thrips and viruses on crops resulting in big losses. The conventional solution has always been spraying at regular intervals.
“Our spun-bound approach uses a non-woven fabric cloth in the initial and growth stages of the plants, which creates an effective shield that prevents sucking pests and viruses. This initiative is being implemented in smaller acreages across Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu,” he said. The Fall Army Worm (FAW) is the latest threat to the Indian agricultural sector, having entered Karnataka in 2018 and spread rapidly to other states with significant yield losses ranging from 20-50%. For instance, the cost of cultivation of sweetcorn growers has increased by 25%-30% due to infestation.
“Protech seed treatment technology implemented in our brand of sweetcorn seeds called Golden Cob is best-in-class early-season insect control for both above and below the ground and also approved and recommended by the government of India,” he added.