Pesticides play a crucial role in agricultural production as they aid in enhancing the yields and global production of major cereal crops. Pesticides are chemicals used to prevent crops from pests, including unwanted species of plants, fungus, rodents, and so on. They ensure higher profits with less input and effort, as pesticides are suitable alternatives for labor-intensive tasks such as weeding. This means growing more food with less effort and less land, but they have to be handled judiciously as they are toxic and negatively affect humans and animals.
According to the IMARC Group, the Indian pesticide market touched INR232 billion last year. The pesticide market is expected to grow further with the increase in the significance of pesticides being realized by farmers to enhance the overall production. With the Indian population increasing and per capita land size decreasing, the use of pesticides has to improve further. The exports can be doubled by adopting proper strategies and the latest technologies to increase the average agricultural yield, not just the increase in domestic consumption.
According to Statista, in 2019, the global agrochemical market was worth approximately 234.2 billion U.S. dollars. This is expected to increase to over 300 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.
Some of the significant trends that influence the growth of the pesticide market include the enhanced scope of nano insecticides, eco-friendly alternatives, etc.
The challenge of illegal and counterfeit pesticides
Pesticides, misused, can cause a profound impact on air, soil and water. Also, direct exposure or the presence of pesticides in food can pose severe issues for human and animal health. Often, a strong regulatory body controls the use of pesticides in the agricultural food chain to protect the environment, humans, and society. While legitimate and must, these evaluations are expensive and limit the quality of food made available in the market, increasing their prices. This creates an opportunity for the trade of illegal pesticides to overcome the market margins.
An illegal pesticide refers to a product that is not authorized to be used in the country, which includes counterfeits or fake pesticides, obsolete pesticides and unauthorized pesticides. While counterfeits or fake pesticides are illegal copies of legitimate pesticides, obsolete pesticides refer to products that are no longer fit to purpose. On the other hand, unauthorized pesticides are the ones that are not allowed to be placed in the market by the regulatory bodies. There are detrimental environmental and socio-economic impacts of using illegal pesticides. Some of these are:
- Air contamination or volatilization
- Ground and surface water contamination
- Adverse effects on non-targeted organisms
- Inefficient at protecting crops from pests, resulting in spread of diseases on cultivated lands
- Destruction and spoiling of crops, or soil infertility
- Threats to terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity
- Risks to human health
- Decrease in crop yields leading to loss of revenues for farmers
- Impacting the business of legitimate companies, affecting their reputation in the market
Overcoming the challenges with the latest digital technologies
The majority of the challenges farmers and other stakeholders face in the agricultural industry can be addressed by empowering them with the latest digital technologies. For instance – data analytics can identify illegal use of pesticides at different touchpoints and a database of satellite images can access and monitor crop conditions across the land. Data collected from various sensors installed can address challenges in the supply chain.
Several supply chain automation platforms focused on the agricultural input industry help build a unified view of data so that it can be analyzed to make smarter decisions. It breaks down silos and connects data from various stakeholders. This data carries details around the products being used at each touchpoint, which range from pesticides being used, local conditions, planning inputs across the business cycle, etc. The fundamental driver of these platforms is the sensors that can capture all this metadata, providing real-time data of the object of interest in the agricultural inputs supply chains. This level of trackability helps ensure there are no counterfeits and pesticides being used in compliance with health and safety regulations. Therefore, these advanced supply chain platforms can be effectively used in the agri input industry to tackle the problem of illegal and counterfeit pesticides as they enable real-time seamless collaboration in the supply chains.
Take, for example, DforD’s AI-powered agriculture input supply chain solution. With patented anti-counterfeit technology and AI-powered monitoring systems, the clones are detected and invalidated as they surface. This prevents unauthorized distribution and takes away the business incentive from counterfeiters. It provides every item a unique, secure, and traceable identity applied as a QR Code. Each code is continuously monitored, and the complete product journey from the pesticide manufacturer’s warehouse to the ultimate pesticide customer is captured. This is presented in real-time with insightful and engaging management dashboards for analysis.
Therefore, such agriculture input supply chain solutions can be effectively used to overcome the problem of illegal and counterfeit pesticides as they leverage the power of data and enable real-time seamless collaboration across the supply chain.