Agriculture holds prime importance in the socio-economic fabric of India and contributes to about seventeen per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). About 42.6 per cent of the total population of the country are employed in the agriculture sector. However, the biggest challenge that the sector faces is that the crop yields obtained in the country are significantly lower as compared to other countries, making it less profitable.
Approximately 25 per cent of global crop output is lost due to attacks of pests, weeds and diseases. Every year in India, pests and diseases destroys around twenty to thirty per cent of food, worth INR 45,000 crores. Agrochemicals play a vital role in controlling weeds, pests and diseases that infest, consume and damage crops, thereby reducing the quantity and quality of food produced. In this manner, the agrochemical companies play a vital role in the economy by providing food security, and by supporting the livelihood of nearly half the population of the country. In addition to this, these companies play an active role in community development in India through their CSR initiatives. Let us look at five agrochemical companies in India that take CSR seriously.
UPL, also known as United Phosphorus Limited is a global leader in the agrochemical industry. The company takes its responsibility for society very seriously. Mrs Sandra Shroff, Vice Chairman, UPL has said, “Caring enough is the commitment to ‘Do things better’ – not just for the business but for the world at large. We undertake multiple initiatives to strengthen communities.”
UPL focuses its CSR initiatives on causes such as education, sustainable livelihoods, nature conservation and meeting local needs among others.
UPL Limited built institutions of excellence to improve the quality of education and to raise responsible and skilled human capital in the region. Quality of education is dependent on a number of factors like health and motivation of students, competent teachers, teaching methodologies, and relevance of curriculum, governance structure and many more. UPL Ltd works on all of these to enhance the quality of education through a company promoted Trust called Gyan Dham Vapi Charitable Trust. The Trust is currently working with 2 schools – Smt. Sandraben Shroff Gyan Dham School, and Gyan Dham Eklavya Model Residential School. The Smt. Sandraben Shroff Gyan Dham School in Vapi was established 46 years ago to provide education to the local children and the children of UPL’s factory personnel. Today the school has a capacity of 1600 students from Nursery to Class 12. The school is equipped with good infrastructure facilities and provides education in English Medium. The Gyan Dham Eklavya Model Residential School, Ahwa Dist- Dang is an educational institute started by the Government (in the year 2000) for imparting education to the children belonging to the tribal community.
UPL Limited is working to provide sustainable livelihoods to rural marginal women through the programme named “UPL Uyamita”. Udyamita is a Sanskrit word that means “Entrepreneurship”. The Udyamita program is aiming at equipping individuals (with a strong focus on women) with the understanding, skills and access to information, knowledge and training that enables them to perform effectively. To improve the capabilities of the youth in the region, UPL Limited established an industrial skill training centre (Known as UPL Niyojaniy) in the year 2014 with an objective to provide comprehensive industry-specific skills training to the dropped-out youth so that the unemployed youth can be successfully employed in nearby industries.
UPL Ltd initiated “UPL Sarus Conservation” programme with the objective of project is to preserve Sarus through a participatory approach involving farmers and other stakeholders. The project has documented the population; abundance and distribution of the species. Total 726 Sarus cranes were documented from Kheda district. Seven summer and four winter congregation sites were identified. The highest number of Sarus Crane during summer was observed at Vanktalav of 168 Sarus cranes. While in winter highest congregation of Sarus crane was recorded in Limbasi (170) Sarus crane was recorded in the agricultural field.
Bayer Crop Science
Bayer Crop Science is also among top global companies that produces chemicals relating to agriculture. The company has had a presence in India for over 125 years.
Bayer’s corporate mission is, “Science For A Better Life”. In line with this mission, the company has identified four areas where it focuses its CSR initiatives on. These areas include Fostering Education, Rural Development, Women’s Empowerment and Preventive Health & Sanitation.
The company undertakes most of its social engagement initiatives through Bayer Foundation India, the CSR arm of Bayer Group of Companies believes that education is a vital factor in bringing about social equity. For a labour-intensive profession that heavily depends on various external factors, income from farming is rarely proportionate to the risks. The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown also caused unforeseen problems for smallholder farmers. To help them through this critical period, Bayer Foundation India partnered with relevant stakeholders on training smallholder farmers on diverse topics to help improve yield and minimize loss due to pest attack.
In Kharif 2019, Bayer conducted a three-week-long capacity-building initiative aimed at introducing rice smallholder farmers to advanced agricultural technologies in the areas of seeds, crop protection, crop nutrition, soil management, drip irrigation, post-harvest management and financial literacy. The rice smallholder farmers were also supported with training sessions throughout the cropping season and were provided with routine agronomic advisory and support to cultivate hybrid rice in subsequent seasons.
Since 2007, the Bayer-Ramanaidu Vignana Jyothi (RVJ) School of Agriculture has provided vocational training to underprivileged rural youth to prepare them for entry-level jobs in agriculture. The training introduces the students to the basics in seed production techniques and principles of integrated crop protection. A knowledge base in business administration, including agricultural marketing and communication, forms an integral part of the curriculum. Located at Tuniki village, 60 kms from the city of Hyderabad, this school in addition to vocational learning, also assists with placement opportunities.
The company has launched an initiative called Future Agriculture Leaders of India (FALI) which provides interactive education, exposure and experiences to students of class 8 and 9 in rural locations. It aims to turn around existing perceptions towards agriculture for both students and their parents, and impart the knowledge essential to make them future leaders in modern Indian agriculture and agro-enterprises. In its seventh year (2020-21), FALI now operates with over 10,000 rural students in 2 districts of Gujarat and 18 districts of Maharashtra.
PI Industries Limited (PI)
PI Industries Limited (PI) is a fast growing agri-sciences company, established in 1947. The company conducts its CSR projects through PI foundation. At the core of the company’s CSR philosophy is Caring, Sharing and Growing.
PI industries focuses its socio-economic interventions towards underprivileged communities around its plant locations and other local areas of operations, so that the weaker and marginalized sections of the society have a sustainable higher income and better standard of living.
PI Industries Ltd is actively participating in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan programme of Government of India and giving priority to the provision of household toilets and school toilets, particularly for girls. The programmes are around Ankleshwar and Jambusar where PI’s manufacturing units are located.
PI Foundation, the CSR arm of PI Industries Ltd, has given Rs.55.90 lacs to the District Collector of Bharuch Govt. of Gujarat to undertake personal hygiene and home sanitation through sustainable approach for 559 households of the poor/marginalized communities in Sarod and Nondhana villages of Jambusar Taluka and Sanjali village of Ankleshwar Taluka. This includes the construction of 559 toilets under PPP model in these three villages. PI Foundation has also earmarked Rs. 1.24 crore to take up toilet construction in 11 Elementary Schools in Panoli and Jambusar under the Swachh Vidyalaya Programme.
PI Foundation works closely with Policy Makers, Industry Chambers, Agricultural Universities, NGOs and Farmers on the Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) Technology. Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) is recognized as highly efficient in saving water. Agriculture uses over 85% of India’s water resources and within it Rice alone uses about half the water used in Indian agriculture. DSR with its eco-friendly characteristics is being seen as a potential alternative to conventional transplanted rice. In the national drive of “per drop, more crop” DSR technique holds immense potential in saving this precious resource. Over the years, our efforts have resulted in changing the rice cultivation practice into DSR in over 18 lac acres of farmlands; a saving of over 1.6 trillion litres of water annually.
PI Foundation initiated “SWASTHYA Seva” through three Mobile Medical Units with an aim to provide access to preventive, promotive and curative health care to 60 remote villages of Jambusar Taluka, primarily to cater to over one lakh people residing in these villages. On an average every month a van attends to over 2100 patients in the coverage area. The project is conducted in partnership with GVK, EMRI. Extension of Medical services through Mobile Medicare Van has been the flagship program of the CSR initiatives around plant location.
Rallis India, A crop protection solution provider and Responsible Care Company, believes that sustainable way of doing business is the only way to progress and support rural India “one of our most important stakeholders”. Sustainability is at the core to the business strategy of the company.
Rallis India has four manufacturing locations. Two each in Maharashtra and Gujarat. One of its unit is at Lote, located in the Kokan belt of Maharashtra. Since its early days, starting 1998, Rallis has been involved in various Community development initiatives . These initiatives were primarily on Education support and skill development.
Since Kokan region is blessed with heavy rainfall every monsoon, yet faces water scarcity during summers due to its hilly terrain and lack of proper storage structure for rainwater. Land available for cultivation is also in small patches and thereby majorly of Paddy cultivation is done in traditional way. Nearly three year back the company decided to intensify its intervention in this region and in consideration to geographical conditions as stated above Rallis has identified villages in the vicinity of its 5 km radius for Integrated Watershed project. Project aimed at increasing livelihood by increasing Agri productivity of Small & Marginal farmers through watershed interventions, women empowerment, skill development. In the watershed project for harvesting Rainwater, Rallis has focused on constructing various temporary and permanent structures like loose boulders, Diversion dams, Check dams etc and Afforestation. These structures were created with the help of Rallis Employee volunteers’ i.e Saathis and Villagers through ‘Shram Daan i.e. providing ones service for community work.
Zuari Agrochemicals Limited (ZACL)
Zuari Agrochemicals is another agrochemical company in India that takes CSR seriously. The company, established in 1967, is based out of Goa and was founded by eminent Indian industrialist Late Dr KK Birla.
Through its CSR projects, ZACL reaches out to the deprived communities to bring about a change in their lives by presenting opportunities for skills and education, safe sanitation, impacting livelihoods and better health outcomes.
Community development is central to the core values we adhere to in ZACL. The company’s community development program aims at building trust and improving the quality of life of the people at the locations we operate in. Project SAHYOG was initiated in Zuarinagar, Goa to protect and nurture communities and to help achieve self-sufficiency in livelihood development and enhancement of health and education and infrastructure development etc. Apart from the community, the programme also involves volunteering by company employees and their family members. This helps enhance corporate rapport with the community, and sensitise employees towards societal issues.
ZACL seeks to equip women from the local community with important employment-generating skills. These include entrepreneurship development for women, vocational training, and creation of small scale enterprises. ZACL has organized poor women from the Zuarinagar area into twenty Self Help Groups (SHGs) and helped them register under the Societies Registration Act (1860).
ZACL also extends financial support in the form of scholarships to meritorious students, one each in Agriculture and Engineering degree courses annually. These scholarships are awarded based upon merit cum financial background i.e. 85% for merit and 15% for the parental income status.