While more and more people demand organic produce, India accounts for a meagre 2.59% of the total organic cultivation in the world. It is this dismal number which led Rakesh Sahni, Udayan Arya, Meghna Arya and Shalu Sahni to get together and start Smur Agro Ventures.
Udayan Arya, the founder director and CEO of the company says initial research was focussed around the reason behind low organic production in India and its possible solutions. The answer now comes in the form of multiple organic pesticides.
The company claims that the multiple products under the brand of Smur Agro not only protect crops from all kinds of harmful bacteria and pests, but also improves the quality of the soil. The company’s mission is to enable organic farming and it does so by providing solutions, products, and support to the farmers. “We partner with the latest organic innovators and the enablers from round the world and develop the scientific organic products for crops and livestock,” says Arya.
The company has developed multiple products which comprise of “high grade ingredients such as extracts, algae, fungal extracts, organic material” for specific and general use.
However, developing organic products was only half of the battle won. Arya shares that organic farmers struggle due to multiple factors like rising input costs, limited market, as well as a perception problem. “We were researching on why India is lagging behind and is there any new way of bringing a new approach to organic farming? The reasons that we arrived at after extensive research showed that there was no market for organic farming except few metro pockets and a problematic certification process,” says Arya.
He adds that although the government tried to open the organic sector, but a lot of substandard organic pesticides and even chemicals were sold under the new lenient licensing regime. “The only way to win over these farmers was through evidential products,” says Arya.
In its battle against perception, the company also makes available a clear cost-benefit analysis of its several products. “We have done cost-benefit analysis for every crop so that we have more than 120 such analysis on our website. We have also prepared a schedule of every product with details on the duration of its application and the cost attached to it,” says Arya.
One of the major reasons that the Indian farmers do not feel enthused about taking up organic farming is the dip in productivity in the first crop season. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research states that the productivity dips by 6.7% on an average in the first year of the transition. Arya claims that Smur Agro products not only counters that dip, but actually increase productivity of the farm.
“Our products give quick evidential results which are apparent as early as seven days in the form of quick and healthy seed sprouting, early profuse flowering, better growth, pest removal.”
The company does not have a direct retail approach towards sales, but partners with local non-governmental organisations and farmers’ associations and relies on them for distributing their products. The startup has partnered with many organisations like Naman Foundation to reach out to farmers.
“We have already established a distributor network in North and South India and are planning to enter East India soon,” shares Arya. Smur Agro is also making its products available in other countries. “We have signed contracts with more than 16 countries for orders of more than 2, 50,000 litres of products,” he adds.