Ankur Seeds

Specializes in developing high yielding seed  hybrids. Located at Nagpur, Maharashtra.

M. G. Shembekar

M. G. Shembekar

Ankur Seeds Private Limited     specializes in developing high yielding seed hybrids.     The company was established in 1976 at Nagpur, Maharashtra.

Speaking about the objective behind starting the company, Mr.M. G. Shembekar, Managing Director says, “Seventies was the period when agriculture sector had tested the benefits of green revolution. It was also the period signaling the dawn of hybrid era.  Even under this situation, there was a big gap between demand and supply of public bred material.

Moreover, there were region specific requirements of crops and varieties which were not totally met by public bred varieties and hybrids. This prompted the present board of Directors (who were fresh agricultural post-graduates then) to set up Ankur Seeds in 1976 with a mission to develop varieties and hybrids for dry land ecology which is a major segment in the country.”

Mr. Ravi Kashikar is the chairman of the group,  Mr. L.P. Aurangabadkar is the Research Director, Mr. M.M. Saoji is Director Marketing; Mr. V.G. Kashikar Production Director and Mr. B.M. Umalkar is the Director Accounts and Finance, Mr.Honrao is the Deputy General Manager. “Most of the Board of Directors are from agriculture faculty and have rich experience of business,” says Mr. Shembekar.

Range of Seeds Developed
Ankur is working on cotton, rice, okra, tomato, chili, brinjal, gourds, wheat, pigeon pea, beans and sunflower. In these crops the company is breeding both varieties and hybrids suitable for different agro-climatic requirements. “Ankur is well known for its varieties and hybrids in cotton, rice, wheat, brinjal, chili and beans,” maintains Mr. Shembekar.

Explaining the idea behind developing hybrids, he says, “The idea is to breed for high yield, to bring two desirable quality parameters together, quality that benefits the farmers from its commercial cultivation. Development of region specific hybrids and varieties help the farmers in meeting the needs of the local market and he in turn gets good returns for his produce.”

R & D
Ankur’s R&D labs are located in Nagpur. The company also has various regional research stations for multi location trials of advanced generation material. The labs are engaged in routine analytical activities. The company has lab facilities for doing research on molecular biology, tissue culture, biochemistry, entomology, plant pathology, oil and fiber analysis, and rice quality assessment.

“All these labs assist the scientists working on crop improvement to develop genotypes suitable for changing climatic requirements, quality assessment of the finished product/s, analyzing performance from multiple locations and to breed for specific traits or qualities. Molecular Biology lab is helping the breeders in quality assessment of the transgenic crops, marker assisted breeding programmes and fingerprinting,” says Mr. Shembekar.
Quality Control
Speaking about checking the quality of the seeds, Mr. Shembekar says, “The company has got a quality control laboratory attached to each of the processing plant with central laboratory located at Nagpur. Each lot that comes from production is thoroughly tested for its physical purity as well as genetic purity. Ankur has developed facilities for ELISA testing of BT cotton lots. Each lot of Bt is individually tested in the laboratory both for Cry 1 Ac and Cry 2 Ab. Unless the lot clears all the tests, it is not processed further for packing.”

Awards & Recognition
Ankur got the National award for excellent R&D achievements in 1996 from Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Government of India. “This has given a great thrust to our ongoing R&D programmes. The company has invested in transgenic technologies thereafter and came up with BT cotton hybrids in the market in 2004,” avers Mr. Shembekar. Ankur also sponsored a project to a U.S university for development of transgenic technologies for developing resistance against drought. “The returns on these investments will be visible in the coming years,” he adds.

Cotton Hybrids
Ankur has done extensive research in hybrid cotton and released various hybrids. It has over 115 hybrids in various crops. “Two of our hybrids Ankur 651 and Ankur 09 earlier were released and notified for cultivation in central dry land zone. Ankur 651 was the first hybrid from the private sector to be recommended for commercial cultivation in Punjab by Punjab Agriculture University.  The company went in to an agreement with Mahyco-Monsanto (I) Ltd for bringing the insect resistance Bt technology in its hybrids and brought its first hybrids with Cry 1 Ac gene in 2004. From then onwards the company has a dozen hybrids both in BG I and BG II segment. Its hybrids like Jai and Akka are available in both BG I and BGII segment.”

He further adds, “Akka is suited for dry land as well as irrigated conditions and is known for its yield stability, stay green nature, tolerance to sucking and excellent fiber properties. The hybrid has been released for Central and South zone. Jai is the only hybrid in the country to be released simultaneously for North, Central and South zone, confirming a unique character of its adaptability to varied agro-climatic requirements. This hybrid is very responsive to irrigations and nutrition and is featured by high yield, long staple, big bolls and very fluffy opening making it easy for cultivation and picking.” The company has also launched new hybrids like Ankur 3028 BG II and Ankur 3034 BG II with superior features.

Marketing Network
Besides its head office in Nagpur, Ankur has 11 regional offices and 6 area offices. “The company has established a well knit marketing network in 16 states of the country through well groomed distributor-dealer network.

For marketing convenience, the country has been divided in to three regions, North, Central and South for easiness in operations. All the regions are handled by experienced general managers with a defined hierarchy for handling the business. This system helps in reducing the problems in the market,” says Mr.Shembekar. Ankur also periodically organizes field day programs and demonstrations in various parts of the country to educate the farmers on the latest in agricultural practices.

There are more than 450 employees working in the company. “The company recorded a turnover of Rs. 200 crores in the last financial year and expects to cross Rs. 300 crores in the coming season,” maintains Mr. Shembekar.

Future Plans
When asked about the company’s future plans, Mr. Shembekar says, “Ankur Seeds is investing in a big way in R&D with equal importance to classical breeding. The company is intending to develop drought tolerant cotton and is also planning to introduce the traits to other vegetable crops as well. It is also developing insect resistant transgenic brinjal, okra and rice to fight against their important lepidopteron pests. In crops like rice and tomato, the company is actively working on molecular breeding aspects to develop non-transgenic hybrids tolerant to biotic factors. All this is being done keeping the national mandate in mind.”

Our Correspondent

Source : Agriculture & Industry Survey [/hidepost]

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