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Bayer and Monsanto merger may help Indian farmers

The proposed merger of Bayer and Monsanto may benefit India. China and Brazil have given the go-ahead, the European Union appears to be moving towards a favorable opinion.

It will encourage greater entrepreneurial energy in the area of crop protection, development of new traits and greater productivity in farming, place a premium on the increasing role of technology and innovation, and make farming in India globally competitive and a profitable economic activity.

The claim that royalty fees on cotton seeds have led to farmer suicides is irrational: thanks to pest-resistant strains of cotton, Indian farmers took to the crop in large numbers and India became the top exporter of cotton.

Agronomic practices play a decisive role in a crop’s profitability. Gujarat farmers thrived on irrigated land, while Maharashtra farmers sowing the same seed in rain-fed areas struggled.

Farmers must be helped to adapt to higher levels of technology. India is on the threshold of an agro-processing revolution: once stable power supply in rural areas moves from rhetoric to reality, it would push up demand for farm produce on an unprecedented scale. India needs new farm knowhow to be available, not aborted.

Strong players need competitors with size and scale to challenge them. India also needs the startup ecosystem to move into crop sciences.