Mahyco strongly believes that R&D is the key to producing superior products and maintaining market leadership. This belief has resulted in several milestones in the company’s history. Mahyco was the first seed company worldwide to successfully commercialize F1 hybrid cotton based on GMS/CMS system. It was also the first private enterprise in India to produce and market hybrids in sorghum, pearl millet, wheat and sunflower.
Mahyco has a broad germplasm base to ensure success in its breeding programs. Mahyco also undertakes its research at numerous centres all over the country. In addition, its multi-location crop performance testing programme operates from 18 different centres across the country.
Research in Plant Biotechnology
Mahyco has been playing a leadership role in delivering biotechnology crops to the Indian farmer.
Plant biotechnology applications in the field have delivered significant economic benefits to the farmer and can play an important role in improving human health. Better crop pest and disease tolerance, fewer applications of pesticides, better nutritive value and higher yield are some of the benefits that current and future biotechnology crops can deliver.
At Mahyco, plant biotechnology is viewed as a tool to be used in a selective manner, as an integral part of plant breeding programs. Traits of value that are difficult to breed for, or are absent in germplasm available to breeders, are the focus of biotechnology research at Mahyco. These traits, when made available, enable our breeders to incorporate them in a precise manner, eliminating unwanted traits that are retained in traditional breeding methods.
In 1998, Mahyco established a research facility, the Mahyco Research Centre, near Jalna, Maharashtra, to conduct cutting-edge biotechnology research in a number of areas relevant to crop improvement and productivity; while still remaining close to its roots in rural agriculture and seeds research.
Major research areas include crop genomics, crop transformation, plant-virus interactions, microbiology, abiotic stress tolerance, molecular and conventional entomology, diagnostics (www.designdiagnostics.com ), double haploids, mutagenesis and protein science.
Nitrogen Use Efficiency
Nitrogen fertilizers play a vital role in boosting agricultural productivity. Reduced availability of Nitrogen (N) fertilizers in fields has a direct impact on farm level yield. However, a large proportion of fertilizer N applied in the field gets lost to the environment due to leaching in soil water and conversion to gaseous forms by microbial activities. The lost nitrogen is a major drain on farmer’s input costs and also negatively impacts the environment. At Mahyco, we are developing technology to make plants more efficient in utilizing applied nitrogen fertilizers. The technology has the potential to reduce the amount of fertilizer farmers have to apply to obtain normal levels of farm yield or to increase yields per hectare. It delivers savings to the farmer while enabling better environmental practices and reduced fertilizer import costs. We are testing rice and cotton developed using this technology.
Mahyco’s research focuses on developing insect resistance as a value added trait in crops such as rice, brinjal and okra. The products contain one or more genes - cry genes from Bacillus thuringiensis - that have proven efficacy in the management of specific target insect pests. India’s first insect-resistant transgenic product Bollgard® cotton was commercialized in 2002, followed by a two gene product Bollgard II™ in 2006. Mahyco has developed products such as Bt rice, Bt brinjal and Bt okra which show excellent control of specific target insect pests in regulatory trials. Bt brinjal with cry1Ac gene has passed through all regulatory testing stages and is awaiting approval for commercialization. Mahyco’s aim is to equip products with good insect control that will eventually boost the profitability of the farmers while minimizing pesticide use and environmental contamination.
Abiotic Stress Tolerance
Rapid population and economic growth in India in the last 50 years have placed significant pressure on the country’s fragile environment and water resources. India’s population is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2024. In order to feed the ever increasing population, efforts are being made to increase water use efficiency and salinity stress tolerance in crops through conventional plant breeding and biotechnological approaches.
Some noteworthy statistics:
- In India, about 7 million hectares of cultivated land is affected by salinity.
- Indian agriculture faces severe water scarcity.
- 70% of yield potential is estimated to be lost to unfavorable physiochemical environments, even in developed agricultural ventures.
Abiotic stresses are a major deterrent to yield and cause economic losses running to billions of dollars annually. Mahyco is testing a number of technologies for mitigating the effects of abiotic stresses. Rice and cotton developed using this technology are being tested as per the necessary regulatory approvals.
Weeds – usually more prevalent under rainfed cultivation – significantly reduce crop yield by competing with crop plants for space, nutrients, light and moisture. Labour demand for manual weeding is high and costly while weed control using herbicides is cost effective and simple. Therefore, herbicide tolerant crops deliver a combination of convenience and flexibility that lead to improved crop performance. Herbicide tolerant plants are able to withstand specific herbicide applications, enabling farmers to remove weeds easily and increase crop productivity. Farmers have recognized the benefits of this technology in a number of countries and herbicide resistant technology is identified as the most rapidly adopted technology in the history of agriculture. Mahyco has been testing cotton developed using this technology. Once commercially released, cotton farmers can effectively control weeds during the crop growing season and achieve improved yield and higher profitability while better protecting the environment.
Mahyco produces seeds for a wide range of hybrid crops, including cotton, field crops and vegetables. These are top quality seeds produced with help of a vast network of contract growers. Mahyco has centers situated across Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Mahyco has a prominent presence across much of the country.
Over one lakh registered contract growers spread all over India are a part of our robust structure for production of proprietary seed material.
Our Production Process:
The production is carried out through well-defined processes supported by our SAP system. Seed growers are selected based on past performance records and experience. Our dedicated production staff monitors fields at critical crop stages in order to help the growers get better yield and maintain seed quality as per defined norms.
Field days are conducted to educate growers about new techniques and give them the confidence to take on production responsibilities.
Mahyco conducts the following grower welfare programs:
- Grower insurance schemes with premiums paid by Mahyco
- Assisting growers to get access to bank loans
- Health camps for seed growers
The production, processing and packaging of seeds at Mahyco are based on stringent quality assurance norms. The ISO 9001-2008 certification awarded to Mahyco is the largest multi-location certification in India covering 59 locations. Since 1999, the Mahyco Quality Assurance laboratory at Dawalwadi (IN06) holds the status of Member Laboratory of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) located in Zurich, Switzerland. Mahyco’s Seed Testing Laboratory at Dawalwadi has had the status of an ISTA-accredited Laboratory since April 2005 and is authorized to issue Orange, Green and Blue ISTA International Seed Analysis Certificates. These certificates are issued following tests for germination, physical purity, moisture, determination of other seeds and verification of species/variety (EP and Field Plot Examination i.e. Grow Out Test) and more in about 77 crop species.
The QA policy of the company is aimed at providing timely, reliable and reproducible results in independent objective testing performed in compliance with all worldwide testing standards. The QA function consists of seven seed testing laboratories and six field test locations across India with the head office in Dawalwadi, Jalna. The QA function has three Gene Purity Testing (ELISA) Labs and four biochemical labs for Genetic Purity testing (EPT).
The Quality Assurance function ensures proper implementation of all defined processes in production, processing and marketing depots. Apart from surveillance, the function also validates seed samplers through quality tests conducted at frequent intervals.
It’s all about adding value to the seeds while transforming harvested seeds into marketable seeds.
Seed processing comprises all steps necessary for preparation of harvested seed for marketing. These include drying, shelling, preconditioning, cleaning, size grading, treating and packaging. These essential activities are handled in Mahyco processing facilities.
Some of the main steps in the process include:
- Drying the seeds to safe moisture levels
- Removing various undesirable materials, including weed seeds, other crop seeds, deteriorated or damaged seeds, stones, chaff, straw, undersize and light seeds
- Ensuring uniform size grading and seed treatment to upgrade the overall seed quality
The Mahyco processing setup has a total processing capacity of 6,00,000 QTL/annum. The processing plants are located at Vejalpur (Gujarat), Dhanora (Maharashtra), Nizamabad, Kalakkal (AP), Kota (Rajasthan), Khandwa (MP). In addition, contract processing plants are located in D'Raja, Mera Phata and Chikali in Maharashtra as well as in Mansa, Vijapur , Modasa , Bodeli and Idar in Gujarat.
Every company wishing to consolidate its export activity has to create its own foreign trade department in order to handle various tasks and maintain its presence in international markets.
The export department at Mahyco is responsible for all tasks related to international sales. The Company is making a major thrust in exports and has the strength and momentum to become a truly global organization in the near future. Mahyco produces a wide range of crops spanning vegetables and field crops. The company produces top quality seeds for the export market through its vast network of contract growers. For the last 20 years, the company has been engaged in custom seed production for clients around the world. We have license agreements in place with reputed international seed companies. Mahyco’s quality assurance lab (IN-06) has been accredited by the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) for issuing Orange and Blue ISTA Certificates. The production department can deliver a wide range of products that fit the agro climatic situation in India.
Large scale vegetable production is now possible using nylon nets which protect the crop from insect damage and improve the quality of the final product.
Mahyco currently has a presence in Asia, Africa, USA, Middle East and Europe (more than 20 countries).