BASF in bid to drive innovative, sustainable food production in Asia
The Crop Protection division of the global chemical company provides fungicides, insecticides and herbicides to farmers to improve crop yields and quality.
It plans to drive sales of such products in Asia to €1 billion (US$1.5bn) by 2020, up from €487m in 2011.
Raman Ramachandran, head of BASF Crop Protection, Asia Pacific, told FoodNavigator-Asia: “Production methods and technical know-how among farmers in the Asia Pacific region is extremely diverse.”
“We have sophisticated, high-tech rice farmers in Japan; commercial, large-scale mechanised wheat farmers in Australia; but also small holders growing rice and vegetables in China, India and Southeast Asia,” he said.
“These extreme differences mean that we have to tailor our products and services based on the level of technical expertise and know-how of farmers in each local market,” he continued.
Targeting the entire value chain
However, the focus is not just on farmers, he said, but work involves all players along the value chain.
In February 2012, BASF teamed up with COFCO, a China-based global tomato producer and processor giant, to develop and enhance sustainable tomato cultivation in China.
“The main goal is to design a production system that addresses needs throughout the food value chain and meet end-consumer demands,”the head continued.
“Farmers in China and the tomato value chain world-wide will benefit from better plant growth, greater stress tolerance of plants, improved tomato quality including higher sugar content and increased yields,” he added.
With farmers, BASF offers integrated solutions for weed, disease and insect control, tailored to differing needs, he said, and business growth in Asia is predominantly driven by demand for fungicides but herbicides have proved popular in India.
India is a core strategic market for BASF Crop Protection and Japan remains a strong, mature market underpinning business but “other emerging markets are expected to see significant momentum,” Ramachandran said.
Training at field level
The company started a training programme in India in 2007,Samruddhi, which saw it team up with 30,000 soybean farmers to boost their profitability and aid sustainable farming practices. The programme now involves nearly a quarter of a million soybean, onion and potato farmers in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
BASF agronomists work directly with the farmers, said Ramachandranto, with the specialists conducting on-field trials and educating the growers on cost and usage of crop protection products. “Samruddhi supports farmers, the food value chain and BASF’s business while protecting the environment at the same time.”
Ramachandran was only recently appointed as head of BASF Crop Protection for Asia Pacific and plans to lead an aggressive growth strategy for the region over the coming years.