by Rajesh Aggrawal, Managing Director, Insecticides India Ltd
There is little doubt that agriculture and allied activities have undergone a major change in the past few decades. From completely manual to highly mechanized and automated, from labor intensive to capital intensive, the field has witnessed several paradigm shifts. Today agriculture world over is driven by scientific knowledge and uses new technology and research to improve yields and prevent crop damage. Not only has the new market-driven economy brought about a change in the ways agriculture is practiced, it has also introduced multiple new fields and career prospects in agriculture. The agrochemical industry is a key component of agriculture today. The industry has helped increase the reach and penetration of agrochemicals that has allowed farmers across the world better their crop yields and income and adopts more effective ways of fighting pest damage. For agri science enthusiasts, the agrochemical industry today offers a wide spectrum of career opportunities from laboratory to farms. Several specializations have emerged in the fields of pest, weed and disease management, manufacturing and the research. With new developments like introduction of green chemistries, introduction of plant breeding techniques; highly improved and efficient agricultural equipment and use of latest soil testing techniques, biological products, and the agrochemical industry is breaking new ground every day.
If you are looking for opportunities to make a career in the field of agrochemicals, here are a few options that you can consider, according to your aptitude and predisposition:
Agricultural Research: This sector has grown leaps and bounds in recent years, with research and development being recognized as key to resolve crop woes and improve yields. It has two basic fields i.e. chemistry and the bio efficacy. This is an interesting field that offers to explore new avenues and test them rigorously to find new solutions. The research further specializes in the domain of insects, weeds and crop diseases. Students interested in a career in agrochemical research can opt for any of these specializations.
If you are an enthusiast in this field and want to make a career studying the subject, one branch you can turn to is agriculture science. Agriculture scientists play a key role in the evolving agrochemicals industry by devising new ways and products to improve agricultural productivity, development of new agro chemicals and fertilizers. Research & Development in the field of agrochemicals is an ever expanding field and India is witnessing a growth of indigenous R&D facilities in the arena.
Agrochemicals Marketing: If you have flair in selling, sky is the limit for an agriculture graduate. Marketing of new agrochemical products is a very large field within the marketing industry that requires special expertise and experience. Marketing of agrochemicals targets both retailers (who sell the product to farmers) as well as farmers directly. Most agrochemical manufacturing organizations, including Insecticides India Ltd, have dedicated and thickly employed marketing departments that work round the clock to help take their new products to the audience.
If you have a degree in marketing, you can polish it further to suit the needs of the agrochemical industry. Having a knack of rural marketing is also important. Agrochemical marketing is a fruitful career.
Pesticide Regulatory Specialist: Licensing and registration is an integral part of the agrochemical industry. If one wishes to stay on the greener side of the law, it is necessary to restrict the chemical composition of agrochemical products according to the legal limits and follow due procedure in acquiring a license for production and sale.
This is where the role of a pesticide regulatory specialist comes in. Statutory compliance with respect to the health and environment laws of the nation and state, and new product registration are the main functions of a regulatory specialist. Agrochemical manufacturing companies have dedicated positions for regulatory specialists who make sure their products comply with all norms. The products do not pass muster unless internal regulatory experts approve them. In agrochemical field, adhering to such regulations are very important for the collective health of the country.
An agrochemical graduate with in-depth knowledge about agricultural laws in the country and a managerial efficiency to look over legal matters of licensing and registration is ideal for the job.
Quality Assurance Expert: In the field of agriculture, which provides us with daily sustenance to survive in this world, quality assurance and control is a necessary function. Therefore, at the stage of production of agrochemicals as well as on the field, one has to keep the quality of product in check.
Monitoring and reviewing raw material information, detecting environmental changes, and inspecting equipment, materials and crops are part of the job. Crop Testing Specialists, who test the agro chemical product on the crops, also work hand-in-hand with these quality control experts by scientifically experimenting with prototypes on certain crops to help them review the information through observation.
Quality experts need to be knowledgeable about the agrochemicals and their possible side effects, and also need to possess the personality for a strict supervisory role. On-field presence requirement implies some physical proficiency as well.
Agrochemical Formulation Scientist: This is an ambitious line of work for people who are interested in the agrochemical industry and the processes involved. Formulation scientists are involved in the production of agrochemicals as well as the post-production work of transferring technology to the field from the lab.
New product development and direct involvement in designing are the exciting opportunities that await a formulation scientist in agrochemicals.
Since this involves a lot of lab work, people with a previous experience in labs and those who know their way around chemicals are highly recommended for this duty. A background in extensive chemical research in laboratories is a must.
It is clear that the agrochemical industry is a breeding ground for various exciting and new career opportunities to nurture and grow in. And you should definitely considering exploring the field!
Educational Qualifications to Start in the Agrochemical Industry
1) Agriculture research: Master of Science in Agriculture or PhD.
2) Agrochemical Marketing: Bachelor of Science in Agriculture is the minimum requirement, Master of Science in Agriculture and also MBA in Agri business would an added benefit
3) Pesticides Regulatory Specialist: Master of Science in Agriculture/Chemistry or PhD
4) Quality Assurance: Master of Science or PhD in Organic Chemistry
5) Agrochemical Formulation Scientists: Master of Science in chemistry or PhD.
Job roles and Pay Scale
The popular job roles in the agrochemical business are in the domain of agriculture finance, sales & marketing, procurement & supply chain, strategy and planning, quality control, farm auditor, and project management. Freshers with a B.Sc. Or B.Tech may start with a monthly salary of INR 18,000 to 25,000, depending on the job role, skill portfolio and the educational institution. However, upon gaining an experience of 4 to 6 years, one can earn as much as INR 6 to 15 Lacs per annum.
Advanced level education (Masters or PhD.) can prove helpful the jobseekers with a background. Master degree holders can expect an average starting salary of INR 6 Lacs a year and with 4 to 6 years of industrial experience, the pay package could increase to INR 9 to 16 Lacs per year. For those are academically inclined, garnering substantial industry experience can help in exploring job opportunities within the academia with handsome pay packages, along with great work-life balance. Research professionals within the academic setups can earn in the range of INR 50,000 to 80,000 per month.
With a host of agricultural reforms taking place in India and a robust export scenario coming through, we can hope the agrochemical sector will bloom in the near future and become of the dependable employers in the country.
Also please note that salary brackets are just indicative and may vary from company to company.