Microbial Biologicals: An opportunity for Indian farms

Microbial biologicals open new opportunities for future agricultural developments based on exploiting the beneficial microbial services to reduce the inputs of agrochemicals, thereby reaching sustainable environmental and economical goals. The agricultural microbials market was valued at USD 3.5 Billion in 2018, and is projected to reach USD 6.0 Billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 14.2%. The global market has been witnessing an upward trend due to increasing awareness and support from several agencies with respect to the usage of agricultural microbial.  It possesses a variety of agronomic and environmental advantages including enhanced organic content of the soil, improved soil quality, structure, and aids water conservation. Quality yields have taken high priority as synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides are known to deteriorate the soil ecosystem and nutritional value of foodstuffs. Environmental benefits, closely linked to the economics of biologicals, are manifold. Sustainable agricultural practices can increase biodiversity in soils, enhance carbon sequestration capabilities of soil, improve air quality, and prevent unnatural soil erosion.

Many players e.g. Newleaf Symbiotics (founded in 2012), Agbiome (founded in 2015), Agrinos (founded in 2009), Indigo Ag (founded in 2014), Bioconsortia (founded in 2014), Marrone Bio Innovation (founded in 2016), are relatively new and actively engaged in this space also collaborating with institutes, big companies for R&D and commercialization respectively. Globally their presence is remarkable in last few years as noticed by numbers of patent publications and their product pipelines. The number of published patent applications from IN PTO in this space has been enhanced tremendously. However, these are dominated by overseas applicants. The number of issued patents from INPTO is remarkably less. It takes approximately 5 years to get issued from India whereas in USA most of the patent applications in this space got issued within 30 months. The patent filing is the first step to commercialise the idea/technology/product. Indian applicants are facing challenges with respect to time requirement for getting patent, regulatory policies, mandatory prerequisite section 10(4)(ii)(D) of National Biodiversity Authority. We hope Indian judicial authorities would review the policies, statutory framework and procedural bottlenecks that would eventually speed up the process, motivate Indian applicants to come forward for protecting their technology and position themselves in global market.

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