Crop ProtectionMechanization and Technology

FMC India: Bringing Precision in Indian Farming through ‘Spray as a Service’

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Exclusive Interview – Mr. Rahul Mathur, Director of Strategy, Services & Business Transformation vertical at FMC India with Nimish Gangrade, Editor, Global Agriculture. (The article was originally published in Global Agriculture)

10 January 2024, New Delhi: India is experiencing a rapid transformation in agriculture with digital infrastructure which is leading the socio-economic development in the rural areas. Farmers in India now use the internet for quick access to any actionable information required by them on agriculture. They use mobile applications to book digital services which provides them access to weather data, pest forecasts, and crop advisories. They can even schedule crop protection product spraying services by boom sprayers and drones and can pay for it using digital payment options.

Mr. Rahul Mathur, Director – Strategy and Business Transformation, FMC India

To understand more about how the crop protection industry is utilizing digital infrastructure to bring precision farming and sustainability to farmers’ fields, we spoke with Mr. Rahul Mathur, Director of Strategy, Services & Business Transformation vertical at FMC India.

In this exclusive interview with Mr. Rahul Mathur, we’ll understand how FMC India’s precision farming services are deploying drones and boom sprayers on farms. These innovative initiatives have brought about significant benefits for farmers across the country. Today, we delve into the world of precision agriculture and explore how FMC India’s services are transforming farming practices, improving yields, and shaping the future of agriculture in India.

1. Can you provide an overview of FMC India’s precision farming services with Drones and Boom Sprayers? How do these services benefit farmers in India?

Guided by FMC Corporation’s core business principles, we at FMC India are committed to discover and offer sustainable technologies to solve evolving crop protection needs. Introducing precision agriculture and spray technologies is pivotal in fulfilling this commitment. As a leading crop protection company, FMC India has taken proactive strides by offering Spray as a Service through self-propelled boom sprayers and drones.

This pioneering initiative holds significant promise, contributing to the increased integration of farm mechanization within Indian agriculture. It addresses critical challenges linked to labor scarcity while reinforcing the focus on food security and the sustainability of agricultural practices. Moreover, this service provides FMC India with an additional platform to directly engage with farmers, offering guidance and spreading awareness about the optimal utilization of crop inputs products for maximum benefits.

Presently, our fleet comprises nearly 100 boom sprayers and 10 drones deployed in key farming regions in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka.

2.    What led FMC India to venture into precision farming? What were the key challenges faced during the implementation?

Sustainability and Customer Centricity are at the heart of FMC’s core values. At FMC, we strongly believe in the power of scientific innovation to revolutionize agrifood systems, making them more beneficial for both people and the environment. Consequently, our commitment lies in developing solutions that endorse precision farming and sustainability.

Through our “Spray as a Service” initiative, we assist farmers in the proper application of products, reducing exposure risks and wastage, while significantly cutting down the application time, thus increasing overall efficiency and productivity. The imminent launch of our pioneering precision agricultural technology, Arc™ farm intelligence, will play a crucial role by providing real-time field pest pressure data to farmers, empowering them to assess the crop challenges proactively, procure and apply the right products at the right time, providing an efficient crop protection solution.

While we strive to introduce and expand new technologies and agricultural services, we also continue to navigate through some of the challenges like raising awareness among farming communities, ensuring information accessibility for all stakeholders, accommodating diverse local farming practices (recognizing that a single solution does not fit all), enhancing last-mile logistics, and nurturing skilled labor in rural areas.

The recent governmental focus and encouragement toward integrating drones in agriculture have been pivotal. It has significantly increased awareness about innovative spray technology within local farming communities and has stimulated indigenous manufacturing, fostering an independent ag spray service ecosystem. Advancements in drone spray technology, coupled with operational cost optimization, are essential factors in driving the widespread adoption and scalability of such technologies.

3.    How does FMC India ensure the seamless integration of technology and precision farming practices? Could you highlight some of the key features and capabilities of your service?

We utilize both physical and digital pathways to ensure technology accessibility for growers. Our field teams maintain close connections with growers to understand their crop-related challenges, exchange best practices, and educate them about FMC’s latest products and service offerings. Additionally, we leverage our digital capabilities, primarily through the FMC India Farmer App which fulfills service requests and offers the necessary information and advisory desired by the growers.

4.    In terms of payment, you mentioned that there is no cash involved, and everything is done through online payment and UPI service.

Considering that 75% of transactions in the rural segment utilize the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and recognizing its status as the most cost-effective digital payment solution, we have integrated the UPI payment solution within the FMC India Farmer App. This integration facilitates convenient access for farmers to avail current and in-pipeline services through the App, aligning with the broader trend of digitization and fintech solutions in the agricultural sector.

5.    Can you share some success stories or testimonials from farmers who have utilized FMC India’s precision farming services? How has it transformed their farming practices and yields? (Please include target crops)

The farmers’ response to our spray-as-a-service operations in India has been overwhelming. We’re seeing the conversion of a considerable latent demand for cost-effective, efficient, and readily available spray services.

During discussions with farmers in Punjab, they shared their experience and mentioned that Boom sprayers cover about 1 acre of land in just 10-15 minutes. In comparison, manual spraying takes much longer and tends to result in uneven coverage. They emphasized the higher risks of exposure involved in manual spraying, while mechanized spraying significantly reduces these risks. Similarly, our Drone spray service empowers farmers to efficiently cover 3-4 acres within a mere 15-minute timeframe, offering the highlighted advantages.

6.    What are the future plans and developments in FMC India’s precision farming initiatives? How do you envision the role of technology in shaping the future of agriculture in India? (Please mention about geography expansion of the current services)

Our roadmap for expansion of our Drone and Boom spray services driven via the FMC India Farmer App is ready to enter the next stage of expansion to other states, benefiting farmers across geographies in India. Stay tuned for announcements in this respect. Besides, as mentioned, we already have an innovative Arc™ farm intelligence tool for pest monitoring, and its launch is imminent. We are actively working on predictive models to further enhance farmers’ crop monitoring capabilities, thus enabling science-based, well-informed decisions for crop care.

Also Read: UPL to strengthen fungicide portfolio with acquisition of Corteva’s Mancozeb business

(For Latest Agriculture News & Updates, follow Krishak Jagat on Google News)

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