The Free Press Journal interviewed Randhir Chauhan, MD of Netafim, the largest Israeli company in India in the non-defence space. Since all its manufacturing is in India, it does not show up as Israel’s exports. Chauhan spoke on Netafim’s journey and achievements in India.
Netafim today is the largest Israeli company in India (not counting defence related businesses of course). How did you get there?
Our approach is think global act local. With a humble beginning in India in 1997, Netafim has grown with a CAGR of 20 per cent plus since then and proud to serve today more than 6 lakh farmers. Our objective remained to help Indian farmers ‘Grow More, With Less’. Today, we have a PAN India presence, with 1,500 dealers, 1,000 staff and 3 manufacturing facilities. India has had tremendous potential in agricultural sector and this is what kept us moving and motivating to do better and better. While we have grown as a company in size, the farmers associated with us, have increased levels of productivity and income, benefitting from the world class drip irrigation technology and know-how, we are offering to them and Netafim, as you said, is the largest Israeli company in India with a strong brand appeal is a testimony to this fact.
The Indo-Israel relationship has certainly helped many companies and has increased trade on both the sides. PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel this year will give a major boost to this relationship. We, as a company are fully committed to his vision of doubling farmer’s income, in fact that is the business we are in, the technology and know-how we offer saves critical resources for the farmer viz. water, labour, power and supports increase in productivity.
Your parent company and you are both involved in agricultural research as well in this country. Could you talk about what you have been doing?
Netafim has an extensive global and local agro-knowledge base, plus we continuously work to bring about new and innovative technologies in agriculture. We work mainly on bringing the know how to Indian farmers related to nutrigation, new crops, modern cultivation practices and protocols. Moreover, our farm automation equipment is best in class, we have now moved to providing wireless control, cloud based farm monitoring techniques, which help the farmers remotely control the irrigation and fertigation in their farms. The world is moving towards digital, and so are we. As I said, the ultimate aim is to help the farming community ‘Grow More, With Less’.
Which are the projects in India that you are most proud of? Can you elaborate on two of them?
In our journey, we have had many success stories in India which have made us proud. Few of those significant ones are Ramthal community drip irrigation project; Erravalli drip irrigation project and Sugarcane mechanisation.
Ramthal community drip irrigation project:
It is located in Hungund, Karnataka, is Asia’s largest community drip irrigation project. Out of 24,000 hectares of the project, Netafim, in association with infrastructure partner – MEIL, has installed automated drip irrigation system in the west package of 11,700 hectares, covering 22 villages and nearly 6,600 farmers.
Erravalli drip irrigation project:
It is located in Telangana wherein the entire village has been drip irrigated by Netafim irrigation systems. The project, spanning 1,100 hectares, is entirely automated and was executed by us single-handed, right from the civil work to the irrigation systems installation. The project was completed in 11 months’ time which is a record.
The other project that we are closely working on, is mechanisation in Sugarcane. It is very well known that sugarcane is a water guzzler and drip irrigation has proven benefits in this crop. We identified the need of mechanisation and have done a pilot in Maharashtra with encouraging results. With labour getting scarce, mechanisation is a step to ease the cumbersome process of planting and harvesting canes. Coupled with Netafim drip irrigation system, mechanisation in sugarcane will prove to be extremely beneficial for sugarcane growers in the country.