Ag biologicals: A surging business opportunity
Agriculture biologicals have been around for more than three decades in global agriculture. However, their importance and wide-scale use has expanded recently due to shifts in consumer preferences towards more nutritious and safe organic food. The global ag biologicals market was valued at USD 9.9 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 18.9 billion by 2025 growing at a CAGR of 13.7%. While in India, the Ag Biological Market was valued at USD 730 Million in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 919 Million by 2025-26 at a CAGR of 4.1%. The key drivers for ag-biologicals in the Indian market include evergrowing food demand as a result of increasing population, consumer focus shifting to safer foods that is linked to an increase in demand for organic products.
Ag biologicals are microbial and plant-derived biochemical solutions that help in the production of healthier crops by improving yield and protecting crops against pests and diseases. Currently, the biological products are extensively used in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices where they are applied as complementary to synthetic plant protection chemicals. Ag biologicals bring in a wide range of sustainable agriculture practices into production systems starting from the soil and seed treatments to their application as fertilizers, plant growth promoters, crop protectors, etc.
Ag biologicals are likely to play a vital role in catering to not only crop protection & enhancing crop productivity, but also ensuring long-term sustainable agricultural practices. Biocontrols is one of the largest segments of ag biologicals that mainly consists of bioinsecticides, biofungicides, bionematicides, etc. This segment is likely to substitute chemical methods or reduce their usage as new chemicals with new delivery methods and reduced dosage are becoming a norm. Further, the emergence of pests, safety considerations for human and environmental health, and reductions in Maximum Residual Levels (MRLs) of food crops will help in increasing the market of biocontrols.
Biostimulants is another ag biologicals segment that is likely to acquire a major share in fieldlevel crop stress management and therefore is expected to become the prime focus for the Agri-input companies to include in their product portfolio. The products like seaweed extracts, organic acids like humic acid and folic acid, etc. increase plants’ nutrient absorption capacity and enhance plant growth. They also help in boosting immunity by increasing the efficiency of metabolic pathways. The demand for biostimulants is surging due to the growing demand for organic food, advancement in farming practices and technologies, and safer foods for a growing population.
There has been active participation of global Ag input leaders in strategic M&As and partnerships with leading biologicals companies such as FMC Corporation’s alliance with Chr. Hansen, Novozymes, Cytozyme and Marrone Bio; UPL’s acquisition of Arysta (Crop protection & life science company); Syngenta’s acquisition of Valagro (leading biologicals company). Such associations will help ag input companies offer a holistic portfolio that would include Ag biologicals products complementing the already existing traditional synthetic crop protection products.
In years to come, the ag biological segment will foresee a significant surge in both Indian as well as international markets. Increasing investments by key international organizations in R&D of Ag biologicals due to surge in global organic food market is expected to additionally benefit the market. Furthermore, the segment will witness active participation from both private and public sectors, encouraging the growth of Ag biologicals as part of a longterm sustainable alternative solution for excess use of chemical inputs in agriculture. Despite challenges like lack of quality testing standards, low adoption and awareness rates among farmers, etc; Ag biologicals is demonstrating immense potential to meet the demands of modern-day consumers in terms of food safety along with uplifting bottom line growers through its sustainable alternative solutions in the farming ecosystem.
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