Rising to India’s population challenge

A spotlight on population, food demands and crop protection

India is an agricultural superpower that has achieved extraordinary increases in production as it faces the challenge of feeding the world’s largest population.

India’s 1.3 billion population is expected to overtake China as the world’s largest within 10 years and increase by 30% by 2050. The population is becoming more urban with a third of people living in towns and cities, a figure that is expected to become a half by 2050. Two of the world’s 10 largest cities are in India (Mumbai and Delhi) at more than 14 million people each.

Despite this rapid urbanisation, India is still very rural. Farming only accounts for 16% of India’s economic output, but it employs half its workforce. Rising wealth across the country means that the demand for different types of food increases with more demand for sugar, fibre crops, fruits and vegetables. The country is already the largest producer of milk, although meat consumption remains lower than other countries.

There is a recognition that if India is to feed its population successfully it will need more crop protection products. The market is currently growing at 8% a year and worth US$2.0 billion. Insecticides account for 57% of the market, herbicides 25% and fungicides 18%. But by the end of the decade that is expected to be 42% insecticide, 35% herbicide and 23% fungicides.

There is particular demand for Adama’s products. The company entered the market in 2009 and is now the third largest in the market.

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