Conventional Indian agrichemical firms have all the time imported improvements from the West and launched it to native farmers to reinforce farm manufacturing. Nonetheless, there was restricted innovation by Indian firms to provide new molecules and merchandise that might profit the native farmer.
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ORF: At a time when the entire world was targeted on biofuels, how did you differentiate Sea6’s worth proposition and develop your product catalogue?
Sri Sailaja Nori and Sowmya Balendiran: Initially, we began as a bunch of scholars and professors at IIT Madras specializing in producing biofuel from microalgae. However we rapidly realised that although the options have been technically doable, the actual points have been the financial feasibility and scalability of uncooked materials (biomass). India has all the time had a shortage of fertile land and water. A lot of the biofuel applied sciences visualised giant areas of land to be farmed for producing biofuel. This additionally concerned an unlimited quantity of water. However contemplating our rising inhabitants and restricted assets, we understood there was a necessity for a radical answer.
We turned to the oceans as a possible supply of scalable biomass. This circumvented the problems of the ‘meals vs gas debate’ and gave rise to the potential for automated large-scale farming. Sea6 Power turned a pioneer in ocean farming applied sciences and utilizing a flexible product vary from sea vegetation. Over time, we’ve developed farming expertise to make it sturdy, scalable and sustainable. We have now additionally developed novel merchandise for agriculture to reinforce progress and management viral assaults that trigger big losses to farmers. We’re at present within the strategy of growing meals components, feed options, bioplastics and biofuels primarily based on ocean biomass. Sea6 Power has a portfolio of 4 granted patents and three further patents filed for the long run product portfolio.
ORF: Inform us about your distinctive ocean working platform and journey constructing a proprietary biomass harvester that may function in the course of any ocean on the earth.
SS and SB: The SeaCombine has been designed to effectively seed and harvest tropical crimson seaweeds whereas on the ocean. Conventional techniques require plenty of the farming actions to be finished on land, which will increase the transport time and value concerned within the course of. Not solely this, the seaweed unnecessarily spends plenty of time outdoors the water throughout the course of, which results in lack of high quality. Utilizing our proprietary tools, we are able to do plenty of the farming whereas on the ocean, growing labour productiveness and permitting farmers to farm a lot bigger areas of the ocean.
The journey has not been a simple one as we have been seeking to construct an answer that was sturdy sufficient to make use of on the ocean and but versatile sufficient to deal with the variation between totally different sea vegetation. We had tried a number of totally different approaches, and it was particularly troublesome contemplating that the seaweed would behave just a bit otherwise at numerous websites and seasons, which led us to make a number of variations of our designs. Nonetheless, the ultimate design is kind of sturdy and may work throughout websites and seasons with ease. This technique will allow farmers to successfully farm a number of hectares within the sea in comparison with earlier techniques, which allowed lower than few sq. meters per day. This gives an answer for scalable high-quality biomass manufacturing.
ORF: In an space the place India historically imports patented merchandise, how did you flip the proposition round to market your patented merchandise internationally?
SS and SB: Conventional Indian agrichemical firms have all the time imported improvements from the West and launched it to native farmers to reinforce farm manufacturing. Nonetheless, there was restricted innovation by Indian firms to provide new molecules and merchandise that might profit the native farmer. Additionally, the impetus to analysis on top quality natural/organic formulations has been scarce.
When Sea6 began specializing in interventions that may impression farmers, we realised that there’s a want for scientifically confirmed natural productivity-enhancing merchandise. So, we continued our analysis on this area for 5 years after which launched our patented product Agrogain, which boosts plant progress. We’re the one firm on the earth in the present day to have a patented a seaweed-based biostimulant.
We have been additionally awarded a particular point out within the Greatest Organic merchandise class on the Agrow Awards, marking the primary time an Indian firm had received on this award. We continued conducting a number of trials the world over with main analysis institutes and contract analysis organisations to validate the product. We additionally constructed sturdy scientific proof to help the use and efficacy of our merchandise.
With all these attributes, we approached world market leaders like FMC Company and Summit Agro (Sumitomo Group) and partnered with them to promote our merchandise globally. We already export to many international locations, together with the US.
ORF: India has constructed in depth infrastructure round agricultural analysis. How have been you capable of leverage this and what are your ideas on the brand new buildings the federal government should put money into for the nation to turn out to be an mental chief and options supplier within the area?
SS and SB: India has an in depth community of analysis establishments devoted to agricultural and animal sciences analysis below the Indian Council of Agricultural Analysis (ICAR).
When Sea6 Power began exploring purposes of sea plant extracts in agriculture in 2014, we have been capable of leverage this community and sponsor analysis tasks with ICAR establishments specialised in crop-specific analysis to guage the efficacy of biostimulant and plant well being merchandise. The entry to animal science analysis institutes additionally enabled Sea6 Power to develop purposes of sea plant extracts to enhance well being and alleviate stress in shrimp, poultry and livestock. For these of us at Sea6 with minimal or no expertise in agriculture and animal sciences, the interactions with scientists from these institutes have been an incredible studying expertise.
The federal government ought to create clusters/centres the place business and academia might give attention to fixing related issues utilizing an interdisciplinary strategy. The implementation of contemporary technological practices on the farm stage must be pushed by coverage. Entry to funding for preliminary concept is offered from the federal government, nonetheless, progress targeted funds should not out there for startups to commercialise their expertise. Develop-out areas for startups are additionally not out there.
ORF: Having perfected the processes for producing biomass at scale, what’s subsequent for Sea6? How will you leverage this core proposition to broaden into the a number of markets that utilise huge portions of uncooked biomaterials?
SS and SB: Sea vegetation have yield potentials exceeding 100 dry tonnes/hectare every year they usually signify a scalable and versatile uncooked materials for a number of industrial purposes. Our imaginative and prescient is to harness this potential of sea vegetation to create a sustainable bioeconomy.
Whereas we’ve commercialised the purposes from sea vegetation (biostimulant and plant well being merchandise) with uncooked materials out there from conventional cultivation strategies, we’ve additionally demonstrated processes that may convert sea vegetation to meals, feed, plastics and fuels.
Biodegradable plastics and biofuels are giant quantity purposes and manufacturing them requires hundreds of thousands of tonnes of uncooked materials and this may be enabled by our proprietary SeaCombine expertise.
Over the subsequent three to 5 years, Sea6 Power will broaden its ocean farming operations and display biodegradable plastics manufacturing at pre-commercial scale. We may also launch merchandise targeted on sustainable meals components and animal well being.