Dr Rahul Mirchandi is the executive director of the Indian fertilizer company, Aries Agro Limited. This 42-year-old company that claims to have been manufacturing eco-friendly fertilizers, recently tied up with Alpha-Agro in Nepal. Dr Mirchandi was recently in Kathmandu for launching some of the company’s products. Angila Sharma of the New Business Age caught up with him and discussed issues surrounding his visit to Nepal, company’s products and its marketing strategy for Nepal. Excerpts:
What is the purpose of your visit to Nepal?
We have been considering Nepal as a very core market for our products. India recognizes that Nepal has huge potential in agriculture with equally huge potentials for improving its ecosystem. Aries Agro has been in the fertilizer business for the past 42 years. It is a renowned brand in the Indian fertilizer market for manufacturing specialized fertilizers, fertilizers that do not react with air, water and soil. We have substantial experience in customizing fertilizers for various crops and soil conditions. To ensure that Nepal gets best fertilizers, we have created customized group of world-class products that will not only preserve Nepal’s environment but also increase crop production and will be cost effective. We have tied up with Alpha Agro, our partner in Nepal, to develop such fertilizers for Nepal.
How are your fertilizers different from the existing organic or chemical fertilizers available in the market?
Our fertilizers are not organic but they also do not react with environment. It is basically an organo-metallic complex. All the active ingredients in our fertilizers are covered with organic cages. Because of the organic covering on the nutrients, it averts from engaging in any harmful reactions. We extract the core minerals and cover them with organic cages that are basically chelating agents. This makes the final product inert from any reaction. The most interesting factor about our fertilizers is that they biodegrade after 20 days of use.
Plants require 16 nutrients like iron, copper, manganese, silicon, boron etc. to grow. These nutrients must be given in balanced proportion for balanced fertilization to take place. Out of ignorance, farmers sometimes tend to use some nutrients more than others. So, we provide them with a customized formulation that is suited to their crop requirements, soil and geographic conditions.
What are the ranges of your products?
We have 85 products available in the Indian market. In Nepal we are starting with a small range of products that are high in demand. Our recently launched six products are high in demand here. In Nepal, zinc is a major deficiency and we are fulfilling the need through a zinc-based product named Chelamin. Similarly, we have launched chelated iron based product called Chelafer and boron based product called Tetrabor. Along with that, we have launched anti biotic for plants called Plantomycin to get rid of pests and water soluble fertilizers NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) to reduce the traditional forms of fertilizers like the urea. Besides these products, we have introduced Agromin (agriculture minerals), a customized product required in pre-determined proportion in farming.
How do you evaluate the Nepali market?
As an agricultural country, Nepal has huge potentials for our products. Nepal and India have much commonality in terms of soil condition and crop pattern. So, we do not want to deprive Nepal of reaping the benefits of our products.
Nowadays farmers prefer organic fertilizers. How will you establish your product in such condition?
We do have organic fertilizers as well. But, it is necessary to understand that farmers have to use large quantities of such fertilizers as they have very low concentration of nutrients. So instead of using organic fertilizers in huge quantities, they can use our organo-metallic fertilizers. Organic Farming is the best form of farming. But, this is the alternative to it. It is equally safe and also solves the problem of labour, transportation and dosage. The only way to establish ourselvesin such market is through demonstration, field work and patience.
What is marketing strategy for Nepal?
First strategy is to find a distributor who has direct links with farmers. We have figured this out. We have sought the help of Alpha-Agro in this regard. They are experienced and have access to farmers and that will help us both tremendously as we are adding to their customer base. Secondly, we are planning to employ an entire team of extension officers who will be creating demands for our product. They will create demand by explaining to the farmers through field demonstration and trials.