Bio-Agriculture is the third largest sector of the Indian biotech industry.
Apart from genetically modified (GM) crops, bio-fertilizers, bio-fuels and bio-pesticides are also contributing to the growth of the Indian agri-biotech market. Also bio-agriculture is an emerging scientific area which is useful for breeding nutritious, high-yielding and less resource input-demanding crops.
India has the fourth largest area under genetically modified (GM) crops by Bt cotton. Besides, Bt cotton, more than 20 biotech crops are under development by both public and private sectors in the country. In addition to these, bio-fertilizers, bio-fuels and bio-pesticides are also contributing to the growth of the Indian agri-biotech market.
The sector consists primarily of firms that are either technology development seed firms, with key players including Rasi Seeds; Mahyco Monsanto biotech; Ankur Seeds; Nuziveedu Seeds, and Metahelix Life Sciences.
Bio-Agriculture was the fastest growing biotech segment in 2011-12, registering 20 % growth and a revenue of $621 million as compared to previous year's revenue of $140 million.
Currently, close to 95 % of cotton growing farmers have already adopted Bt technology leaving less scope of higher growth in the coming years in Bt cotton. Bt cotton is the only GM crop approved for commercial cultivation in nine states by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC). At present, 64 companies sell over 780 Bt cotton hybrid seeds in India. Of these, 60 % are based in Maharashtra and Andra Pradesh. About 35 companies have been involved in production and sales of Bt cotton in India. However, the Bt hybrid cotton seeds market will grow after the farmers adopt the new agronomic innovation with high density planting for higher yields.
With India’s growing population, and corresponding increasing need for food, this is an increasingly important area for the country to explore and has a potential to become a major producer of transgenic rice and several genetically modified (GM) or engineered vegetables. Hybrid seeds, including GM seeds, represent new business opportunities in India based on yield improvement.
Some other potential areas of development include medicinal and aromatic plants, animal biotechnology, aquaculture and marine biotechnology, seri biotechnology, environmental biotechnology, biofuels and biopesticides.