Each crop that the company deals in has a qualified breeder, who is either PhD or Post Graduate in plant breeding and genetics and is assisted by 2 junior breeder and 4 technicians, who hold agriculture diploma.
Nath Seeds is a hybrid seed and biotechnology company providing planting material to farmers. Headquartered in Aurangabad, the company was initially set up in association with Mahyco but the promoters parted ways to incorporated Nath Seeds in 1979. The company is promoted by Mr. Nandkishore Kagliwal, chairman, Mr. Satish Kagliwal, managing director and Mr. S.U. Baig is the technical director of the company. The founders are progressive farmers of Marathwada region.
“I started my career with Mahyco in 1968 and then joined Nath seeds in 1979 and I am responsible for production, research, quality control, processing, foreign collaboration and joint ventures. I also partly look after the north Indian markets namely Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, U.P., Bihar, Jharkhand, M.P., and Chattisgarh,” avers Mr. Baig
Nath Seeds produces a wide range of seeds of cotton, sunflower, mustard, pearl millet, sorghum, maize, rice and vegetables specially bred for different agro-climatic conditions to meet the exacting requirements of Indian farmers. The company has a wide network of research farms, testing stations, processing and ware housing facilities in all major marketing areas. It has tissue culture facility for production of 3 million plants per annum. The seeds are marketed through a wide network of dealers and distributors throughout the country.
When asked why the company chose to focus on seeds, Mr. Baig says, “Since we were having the background of seeds from Mahyco and knowing the domestic seed market and the potential of our products in different regions, it made it very easy for us to enter this business. We are present in almost all over the country except north eastern region and Jammu and Kashmir.”
Promising Hybrid Varieties
Naming the most promising varieties of seeds released by the company so far, Mr. Baig says, “The most promising hybrids that have been commercialized in the country are in cotton: Vishwanath, Nath Baba, Kashinath, 2316, 2114; in rice: Loknath-509, Kabir 508, Loknath-510 and open pollinated paddy varieties Maneka and Padmini; in maize: Nath Samrat-1122, 1133, 1144, 95011; in jowar: Amarnath-251 and Amarnath-2000; in bajra: Swaminath-2000, 2001, 9772 and ek-301; in sunflower:
Suryanath-666, 999, 1000 and 1001. “In case of vegetables we have introduced and commercialized excellent hybrids in water melon namely Ranjit 4107, in coriander: Evergreen; in gourds we have good hybrids in bottle gourd, bitter gourd, ridge gourd and sponge gourd; in chillies also we have 2 hybrids namely Venkateshwara and Narsimha and many other hybrids are in the pipeline. “We also have very promising hybrids in okra (bhendi): mandira-300 and mandira-100. Similarly we also have series of hybrids in brinjal, cucumber and cabbage. We have joined hands with Chinese Institute of Bio-Technology for BT gene for cotton and we have already tested our hybrids in different regions of the country namely northern zone, central zone and southern zone. Our large scale trials and multi location trials are organized in different regions of the country.”
The company also has a gene bank. “We collect germplasms from all over the world. The growth of the company is determined by its gene bank and we are continuously trying to strengthen our gene bank. We do not deal in rooted plants,” avers Mr. Baig. “Our BT cotton trials which are in the second year have been organized after getting the bio-safety clearance from the appropriate authority and GEAC is reviewing the performance of our hybrids and we are hopeful of getting permission for commercialization of our BT cotton hybrids soon,” he adds. According to Mr. Baig, the fastest selling varieties from the company portfolio are hybrid paddy (all varieties), in cotton, Vishwanath and Nath Baba hybrids and in vegetables, water melon, coriander and okra.
Mr. Baig maintains that each crop that the company deals in has a qualified breeder, who is either PhD or Post Graduate in plant breeding and genetics and is assisted by 2 junior breeder and 4 technicians, who hold agriculture diploma. “We invest almost 10 % of our turnover in R&D,” he emphasizes, adding, “We have 400 acres of land in Aurangabad, which is exclusively used for our R&D work, parental line multiplication work and organizing trials of different crops and also testing the genetic purity of the material before we sell the product in the market.”
When asked about market competition, Mr. Baig maintains, “We face stiff competition from the many multinationals operating in India and also a few indigenous seed companies like Mahyco, JK, Namdhari, India-AM and Sungro. Our market share varies from crop to crop and region to region. If you see our market share in eastern U.P. in hybrid rice we claim that we are no.2 and at the national level we are probably at the third position in hybrid rice. Our share in cotton would increase substantially once we commercialize our BT cotton hybrids.”
Te company also has presence in the export market. “We export some quantity of onion seeds and are exploring the possibilities of exporting maize and jute seeds to Bangladesh, maize to Pakistan and rice in Vietnam and Philippines. Last two years we exported a sizable quantity of our maize seeds to Egypt and we are likely to get sizable order this year too,” avers Mr. Baig. “The percentage of export turnover is very little, we are hopeful of increasing it in the coming years,” he adds.
In India the company sells all its seeds through its dealers and distributors network all across the county. “For our BT cotton, there are 6-7 companies who have got the technology from us and are our sub-licensees, namely Zuari Seeds, Yashwat Seeds, Bejo Seeds, Green Gold, Navkar Seed and United Phosphorous Ltd,” says Mr. Baig.
He further maintains that the company provides guarantee for its products. H says, “We have excellent arrangement for after sales services for the farming community and in every districts at village level we have NFAS (nath farmer advisers). Whatever seeds we sell in our brand we give guarantee of germination and also its genetic purity.”
The company has a FRP covered green house of 800 square meters with evaporative cooling, misting and shading equipment for hardening of tissue culture plants, In addition, the company has one hectare of shade house for hardening of plants. This facility is being used for production of banana, sugarcane and potato micro-tubers.
Nath Seeds undertakes its seed production in over 30,000 acres of land with 25,000 farmers in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamilnadu. It has processing facilities at Aurangabad, Coimbatore, Medchel (AP) and Munipally (AP) for ginning, delinting, processing, treating, packing, and storage of seeds. The company also has processing arrangements in Gujarat, Karnataka, M.P. and Rajasthan on custom basis.
Nath Seeds has a laboratory at Aurangabad for quality control of all its seed lots. All the seeds are checked for germination, physical purity, moisture content and vigour before packing and sending to marketing centres. The quality control department also does grow out test (GOT) in 400 acres of land to ensure that all the seed lots are of required standard of genetic purity.
Scope of Indian Seed Industry
Speaking about the Indian seed market, Mr. Baig says, “Indian seed market has tremendous opportunities and there is enormous scope for expanding the activities of seed in many areas which are still growing local varieties,” adding, “The domination of MNCs would definitely increase since these MNCs are flush with funds and they have access to the best of world’s germplasm and also access to the latest technology.”
Suggesting initiatives the government should undertake to increase seed cultivation and value addition in India, Mr. Baig avers, “Government’s support is required in many areas particularly in extension services and in creating awareness among the farming community about the new inventions in the field of agriculture, about the new technologies being introduced in India and also good support for ensuring better prices for hybrid paddy seeds.” He adds, “The spread of hybrid paddy is not very high at the moment and out of the 43 m.hec. of rice grown in India, not even 1% is covered under hybrids and the government aims to convert 20% area under hybrids by 2010. Moreover many traders in north India are exploiting the farmers by offering lower price for the hybrid paddy grain.”
Mr. Baig lists the various obstacles confronting the company, saying, “The company is faced with many hurdles like sudden changes in the policies of state government about prices, several conditions stipulated by central government on BT cotton seeds, non sharing of the germplasm and elite material by the government research institutes.”
However he is optimistic about the future of my company. He emphasizes, “Our goal is to rank in the top 5 seed companies of India.”