On the occasion of opening a new office in NOIDA, the Krishijagran Team interacted with Shri Arun Leslie George, Executive Vice President & Head of SSP Business at Coromandel International Limited. Shri George, who is working with the Murugappa Group for more than 25 years highlighted the growth of the Company with confidence & commitment.
The role of Coromandel Fertilizers is to Grow More to meet the food requirements of India`s growing population in view of the limited arable land. According to an estimate India`s grain output needs to cross 280 million by the year 2020. Increasing crop productivity is the only solution to address the ever increasing demand. The need to provide crop specific, location specific and site specific grades of fertilizer is of paramount importance. In an interview to Krishijagran, Coromonadel International Limited, Executive Vice President talks about the expansion of the Company’s businesses and outlook for agriculture growth.
Emerging of Coromandel and some information about their products?
Coromandel is an Indian corporation founded in the early 1960s by IMC, Chevron from USA and EID Parry. The company is in the business of Fertilizers, Crop Protection, Specialty Nutrients, Organic Fertilizers and Rural Retail. Coromandel International is the flagship company of the Murugappa Group and has 16 manufacturing units located in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir and its brand portfolio includes Gromor, Godavari, Paramfos, Parry Gold, Gromor Suraksha, Double Horse, Parry Super, among others.
It is ranked among the Top 20 Best Companies to work for in India as per the survey conducted by Business Today 2009. It is rated as one of the top ten greenest companies in India by TERI, reflecting its commitment to the environment and society.
Its mission is to enhance the prosperity of farmers and to that end has been focusing on improving farm productivity and farm economics.
As you are a company of Phosphatic fertilizers manufacturers, how about SSP?
India is a young country with 1.2 billion people that is rapidly urbanizing resulting in the shrinkage of agriculture land. The growing population and changing dietary consumption patterns afforded by growing income levels will mean that Indian agricultural practices will need to change and adopt higher and different types of agri-inputs to keep pace with the demand. With the acquisition of Liberty group of companies, the Company has accelerated its planned expansion of Single Super Phosphate (SSP) business. This acquisition has enhanced Coromandel’s capacity to manufacture over ten lakh tons of SSP that allows Coromandel to reach the farming community in various parts of the country.
One of the key issues faced by the SSP industry is with respect to quality of products being sold in the market. It is said that in the SSP industry we get SSP from 0% to the requisite 16%. Substandard SSP being sold by many players adversely affect the image of the SSP industry. The Central and State governments have taken many steps to improve quality in the SSP industry yet there are very large gaps. This systemic helplessness in doing anything about quality is pushing farmers to go for more expensive DAP which is mostly imported thus pushing up the cost in the food chain. There is a need to increase awareness about quality of SSP as an issue amongst farmers who may not be aware the impact in yields and quality of output when they use a substandard fertilizer.
We at Coromandel have initiated a series of steps to ensure that we make absolutely the best SSP in terms of it being (1) free flowing, (2) non caking, (3) correct nutrient content, (4) correct weight and (5) good packaging with a unique tamper proof sealing. Our granules are uniform and the quality is much higher than the required specifications. To ensure our quality is consistent we have introduced random external checks at all our 8 plants manufacturing SSP each month. The product samples are tested at an external laboratory and the report is sent to Marketing. Each day I review the Quality Report of all 8 plants to ensure that only the very best SSP goes to the farming community. Double Horse is the Rolls Royce of SSP and the farmer can buy SSP with full confidence and trust from a reputed group which made the first fertilizer in India over a hundred years ago!
Our belief is that such a distinctive and superior product will get farmers to replace the more expensive and less effective DAP with Double Horse SSP. Instead of using one bag of DAP, it is better to use a combination of Urea (half bag) and Double Horse SSP (3 bags) which will be cheaper for the farmer apart from getting 16.5kg of Sulphur and 28.5kg of Calcium free. Our field trials have shown that this combination results in better yields and better quality of output than DAP in many crops.
Being a south based company, any plan to come to North?
We are a pan India Company having our plants in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu also. Our strategy is to sharpen focus on the growing SSP segment in the wake of it being a very affordable and effective fertilizer and being superior to DAP.
What are the plans for expansion of fertilizer capacity?
Keeping in the view of the greater demand for fertilizers, we have expanded our Kakinada Plant (C-Train) in Andhra Pradesh. The Liberty acquisition has seen a significant expansion in our SSP capacity.
Do you anticipate revenue and growth targets?
As a policy, we don’t give any guidance on our revenue growth targets. However, we are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to grow our portfolio of products to help farmers improve agricultural productivity, thus enhance their economic status.
What type of initiatives is Coromandel International planning to take on the retail front?
Our rural retail journey started during 2007-08 with establishment of Mana Gromor Retail Centers. Considering the customers’ response and strategic fit, we have expanded this network to over 750 outlets. Today, a farmer has access to complete farming solutions in these centers.
One stop solution is our motto to help farmers to get the solutions to their farming problems at our retail stores. Apart from expansion of our retail network we have also introduced farm mechanization solutions. Which we see as a big opportunity as the farming community continues to face labour shortage.
We have a range of CSR activities across Coromandel and the Murugappa Group in healthcare, education, community infrastructure, etc. At Coromandel we have focused on the girl child. We are providing scholarships to girl students to become literate and contribute to the society. Many girls drop out of schools because there are no proper toilets. To this end we are building toilets for girls in schools so that they get back to school.