Rasi, Nuziveedu push BioAgri sales
BioAgri sector records Rs 926 crore in sales, registers 54.85% growth
The BioAgri sector, primarily driven by Bt cotton, was the third largest contributor to the total biotech business of Rs 8,541 crore, accounting for 10.84 percent share of the pie. The sector grew by 54 .85 percent. Rasi Seeds, Nuziveedu Seeds and Mahyco have been the prime contributors to this sector with revenues of Rs 333.33 crore, Rs 226.42 crore, and Rs 110.69 crore respectively. These three accounted for 72.34 percent share of the total BioAgri market. The Bt cotton seeds market alone is estimated at Rs 835 crore.
During the year, India overtook China in terms of total area under Bt cotton cultivation. This is a significant achievement considering the fact that Bt cotton was introduced for commercial cultivation in the country in 2002. According to The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), the area under Bt cotton tripled to 3.8 million hectares. India surpassed China, which had 3.5 million hectares of Bt cotton under cultivation.
A total of 62 Bt cotton hybrids were approved for planting in 2006 compared with 20 in 2005 and four in 2004. The major states growing Bt cotton in 2006, listed in order of hectarage, are Maharashtra (1,840 million hectares representing almost half, 48 percent of all Bt cotton in India in 2006) followed by Andhra Pradesh (8,30,000 hectares or 22 percent), Gujarat (4,70,000 hectares or 12 percent), Madhya Pradesh (3,10,000 hectares or 8 percent), and 2,15,000 hectares (6 percent) in the northern zone and the remainder in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and other states.
In 2006, three new events were approved for incorporation, taking the total events to four. The first event known as Bollgard-I (BG-1), featuring the cry1Ac gene was developed by Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company (Mahyco), sourced from Monsanto, and approved for sale for the sixth consecutive year in a total of 48 hybrids for use in the different regions (north, central and south) in the country.
The second event, Bollgard-II (BG-II with event MON 15985) also developed by Mahyco and sourced by Monsanto, which featured the stacked genes cry1Ac and cry2Ab, was approved for sale for the first time in a total of seven hybrids for use in the central and south regions. The third event, known as Event 1 was developed by JK Seeds featuring the cry1 Ac gene, sourced from IIT Kharagpur, India and approved for sale for the first time in a total of four hybrids for use in the north, central and south regions.
The fourth and the last event, the GFM event, was developed by Nath Seeds, sourced from China, featured the fused genes cry1Ab and cry1Ac and approved for sale for the first time in a total of three hybrids, one in each of the three regions of the country.
By May 2007, 111 Bt cotton hybrids have been approved for commercial cultivation. Out of these 83 hybrids are based on Bollgard-I, 15 on Bollgard-II, six on Event-I, and six on GFM Event. Though hybrids based on the existing events are being given clearances by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), it has blocked large scale trials (LST) of new events. Metahelix had sought LST and seed production approval for three Bt cotton hybrids (5174, 3134 and 5125) incorporating its own in-house synthetic cry1c gene construct, which is a completely different gene with a different mode of action from cry1Ac or cry1Ab. It is a single gene with a broad spectrum of activity, producing toxic proteins against both bollworms and armyworm.
Bt cotton cultivation is on the rise and India in 2006 became a net exporter of cotton from being an importer. These developments clearly favor for introduction of newer technologies. This can happen only if there are lesser incidents of interference from the regulators or legislators. The industry is already grappling with the issue of pricing of the Bt cotton seeds sales. Last year the seed companies were pressurized to fix the prices for Bollgard-I at Rs 750 per packet. However, recently New Delhi based representative of 15 seed companies, The All-India Crop Biotechnology Association (AICBA) announced that the various state governments and the seed industry have agreed in principle to an MRP (minimum retail prices) of Rs 925 per 450 gm packet against Rs 750 for Bollgard I cotton seeds. The industry's contention is that the pricing should be as per the market dynamics. This is the only way by which quality can be ensured and that the companies are not in red.
The biopesticide and the biofertilizers market is estimated to be around Rs 80 crore. Biotech International, Excel, and Multiplex are some of the leading players in this area.