“Biotech products immensely help improve plant conditions”
A weekend farmer I came across a biotech plant growth regulator, Magic Gro, and used the same while planting the sapling and later as a foliar spray. A year later I have found that my plants are much healthier compared to my neighbour’s who planted the saplings almost at the same time. Intrigued, I quizzed Dr Ganesh Kamath of Organica Biotech (www.organicabiotech.com) on Magic Gro which facilitates availability of essential ingredients e.g. vitamins, amino acids, plant growth hormones, micro nutrients, plant stress relievers and essential microbes to improve over all plant conditions.
In what way do biotech products, like yours help in enriching a plant?
We advise the farmer to pre-treat their seeds with biotech products before sowing. Distinct advantage of doing this is that the germination is faster and practically there is 100% seed germination provided the seeds are not damaged physically. Soil application of biotech products helps in increasing root density, root propagation and also increases the number of white roots and root hairs. Better root structure ensures better assimilation of food and other essential micro nutrients for the plant. During the flowering and fruiting phase, we advise foliar spray application of biotech products. This helps in improved photosynthetic activity of the leaves, lesser number of flower drops and fruit drops. Every plant has an inherited genetic potential and a good biotech product application will help that plant reach its genetic potential naturally, which effectively is higher yield, better quality of produce and a healthy soil
Chemical-based plant growth promoters are all-pervasive. How are they different from the biotech products?
A chemical based plant growth promoter normally works on one single aspect of the plant cycle, whereas a biotech product will work on the total plant system helping it to achieve same or even better results as compared to a chemical plant growth promoter minus the side effects on the soil or the overall plant growth system.
Are biotech products necessary for fruit giving plants, crops etc? If yes, why?
Yes, in fact biotech products are very important for a fruit giving plants and crops. Previously a farmer’s concentration would always be around achieving higher yield of their final produce but in recent times more and more farmers are looking to improve their quality of the final produce. Today the farmer knows that having good yield is not enough but also having high quality of their final produce with lower chemical residues is important too. In today’s time having a high quality produce with a longer shelf life ensures them better compensation. A good biotech product plays a very important role in achieving and maintaining the quality of the fruiting plants and crops.
Are farmers aware of the benefits of biotech products?
The new breed of farmers are slowly getting aware of the benefits of an effective biotech product. But in reality much more has to be done in terms of educating the farmers about the benefits, especially the illiterate farmers. There is also a problem of several “snake oil” type of products which are sub-standard and low on functionality which are being sold in the market that make the job of education more difficult.
Is cost, between chemical and biotech products, a deterring fact for farmers to switch over?
Most farmers calculate the cost of a product by the price per bottle/pack. But it is very important the farmers start calculating the cost of a product in terms of number of applications and the area covered per application. For eg. price of an effective biotech product could be Rs. 500 per pack while the price of a chemical PGR could be Rs. 200 per bottle. In the first case you need to use only two packs per crop cycle i.e. Rs. 1000 in total whereas in the latter case you are required to use ten bottles for the same area per crop cycle ie. Rs. 2000 in total. There are other benefits of using biotech products viz. less chemical residue in soil, lesser pest attacks, safer for the consumers etc.
Biotech growth promoters like Magic Gro have been around since how long? Who are the other players besides you in the Indian market?
Biological growth promoters have been here since last four decades. Many agriculture universities used to provide the microbial culture like Nitrogen Fixing Bacteria and later Phosphate Solubilizing Bacteria and Rhizobium in small plastic packs to the farmers. The problem was that the results of such applications were highly variable. Even today, some of the microbial culture products give favourable results only when the environmental conditions are specific. Scientists have discovered many more natural, safe and powerful organisms which can perform exceedingly well in terms of overall plant growth. The market is flooded with many biotech products, but sadly over 95% of them are low on functionality. People fail to understand that coming out with a biotech product is not easy and requires a lot of R&D strength.
Vermicompost or biotech products. How are they different?
It is like comparing apples to oranges. Vermicompost is a fertilizer which is organic in nature whereas a biotech product is not a fertilizer. People try to confuse the market; just because vermicompost or any other compost has some organism does not mean it is a biotech product. But when you mix a specific high functionality biotech product in vermicompost then yes, it can be called a “biotech grade vermicompost”. Vermicompost can be used to replace or reduce chemical fertilizers.
Tell us more about Magic Gro users in India and elsewhere.
We have users located in different climatic and environmental conditions in India and abroad. Many grape growers in and around Sangli are using our product for their vineyards. The average cost for treating an acre of a vineyard with our biotech product is around Rs. 2800 per season and the average extra profits which the farmer gets are to the tune of Rs. 30,000. Many potato growers are using our biotech product for blight problems. The average yield goes up by 28%. The sugarcane farmers can recover the cost of our biotech product within the first one month of seed sowing. The sugarcane seeds are dipped in our product solution and then sowed which helps in complete and faster germination. Average yield goes up by 10 to 40 tons per acre. Onion growers use our product for a very distinct advantage which is longer shelf life of the final produce and the complex aroma of the onion which is missing nowadays.