Unique Strength in R&D, History Guide Gharda’s Growth Path

N.P. Nair, Vice President of International Sales, shares his perspective on the company’s vision and other issues impacting the market, including Make in India.

What do you want people to know about Gharda and how the company has evolved?
We have been in the chemical industry for more than 50 years and are one of the leading manufacturers of agrichemicals in India. We are one of the top companies in India that has its own R&D strength. Most Indian companies are dependent on the process from outside. Gharda is one company that has such a facility and spends more than 10% of profits on R&D. We were the first to introduce many agrichemicals in India — for example: synthetic pyrethroids, chlorpyrifos, fipronil, deltamethrin,
and dicamba.

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Our founder, Dr. (Keki) Gharda, is a great scientist who has been awarded by American Institute of Chemists, and has been recently been awarded by the government of India one of the highest civilian awards for contributions to society.

In the agrichemical field, we have decided to launch two off-patent agrichemical products every year. In 2018 we are coming with two molecules, but aren’t disclosing which ones yet. The work is in a very advanced stage, and registration will be completed by early next year.

I feel it’s a great company with Dr. Gharda’s vision, and I also have found the company has high potential for growth and new molecules. Very shortly, you will find that Gharda is among the top one or two companies in India.

In what markets are you more interested in expanding right now?
We are present in almost all countries, but because of registrations we haven’t reached all products in all countries. We are trying to expand further on that basis. We have a great presence in the U.S. — it’s almost a $100-million business, and one of the leading manufacturers of dicamba.

Do you see more demand for dicamba on the spread of weed resistance and the new dicamba-tolerant technologies hitting the market?
As the dicamba-resistant seed, which is developed by Monsanto, catches on, demand for dicamba is likely to grow, and we see a great market and potential for this product.

What did you discover at this AgriBusiness Global Trade Summit in Las Vegas? Any surprises?
This conference is a nice place to renew our contacts, develop customers, and strengthen relationships on this side of the world. This is a good contact point for the Americas, and it’s a nice forum. We have been very busy over the last two-and-a-half days. Here, we get a real feel for the market and competition, because at the same time (customers) meet with all 10 manufacturers. You get an idea of what everybody’s prices are and things like that.

Can you offer your take on the Make in India plan? How do you see it playing out?
Make in India is a new initiative taken by the new Modi government, and we feel it is a good move toward developing new molecules in India. What was happening is that even with patented products that were just launched, people never used to take an interest in developing the product in India. I don’t know what it was, but there was something in people’s minds that told them it’s too difficult to compete with the Chinese. They said, ‘It’s not possible; the Chinese are already there.’ But, Make in India is giving a kind of confidence to Indian manufacturers and industry.

They are also trying to control import. If you really don’t have any benefit of importing a Chinese product, why don’t you buy it from India? There are manufacturers in India making good-quality material. Also, this gives an opportunity to recognize the difference in quality between India and China. People don’t really look at that when China sells at for $5.50 and India sells at $6; they just blindly buy and don’t look at the quality of the material or the advantages or disadvantages of buying Chinese material. Impurities could play a negative role when you use it — it could be phytotoxic or cause other problems — so all of these things are getting highlighted.

It’s definitely going to give a boost to Indian industry, at least for domestic sales. Internationally, it may not have such an impact.

What about biocontrols — are you interested in expanding into this area?
We are not in biopesticides, but it is catching up in India — it’s a new buzzword. I feel people are getting more and more convinced about biofertilizers especially.

Demand for organic in India is growing, and people are willing to pay extra money for it. But unfortunately, the poverty level is high. Everybody cannot buy it. I feel organic cannot happen at 100% level, or even up to 50% is very difficult. When pests attack, organic doesn’t give immediate control. It takes time. The organic control systems are also quite costly compared to that for chemicals.