In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Introduction to Marketing of Bio-Fertilisers 2. Problems in Marketing Bio-Fertilisers 3. Lack of Use 4. Strategies.
Introduction to Marketing of Bio-Fertilisers:
Due to various problems of the use of chemical inputs, and consequent environmental and economic implications, a new alternative in the form of bio-fertiliser is emerging. The ministry of agriculture, Govt., of India has launched a national project on use and development of bio-fertilisers since the end of 6th five-year plan.
Bio-fertilisers are carrier-based preparations of living micro-organisms which either fix atmospheric nitrogen or enhance the solubility of soil nutrients. Their significance lies in their ability to supplement or mobilise soil nutrients with minimum use of non-renewable resources and as components of integrated plant nutrient system.
Bio- fertilisers are either nitrogen or phosphorus. Bio-fertilisers not help us in maintaining, soil fertility, control diseases, yield enhancement and are pollution free. Their efficiency is almost double as that of chemical fertilisers and have a low cost input.
At present, there are about 100 organisations producing bio-fertilisers which include public, private, and joint sector companies. The dominant market is with the state government units followed by institutional agencies like agricultural universities, and private companies in that order.
The main issue in bio-fertiliser marketing is that they are not primary inputs like seed and fertiliser. So there is always a need for pushing this product into the market. Firstly, the product is not being marketed on its own, but it goes with other agricultural inputs as most of the bio-fertilisers are sold through the existing input channels.
Secondly, the shelf life of bio-fertilisers is short and they cannot be stored at high temperature. Therefore, there is a need to improve the quality of product or to provide adequate storage facilities at the local level. Most of the Indian companies are selling poor quality bio-fertilisers because of which farmers are getting inconsistent results that lead to dissatisfaction among farmers.
The factors on this count are more in the nature of proper communication and promotion of the product. At times farmers are not aware of the product itself or they consider bio-fertiliser as not beneficial for crop and soil. When they are aware of it, then there are problems of lack of availability and technical knowledge about product usage.
In order to remain in business viably, the fertiliser companies need to restructure their business in terms of spreading the risk. Traditional chemical fertiliser marketers can add not only bio-fertiliser to their portfolio but also other inputs like pesticides, seeds, and micro nutrients. This is possible as these products can be placed in the market with very little addition to distribution and other costs as there is already an existing dealer network for the main product.
The companies in fertiliser marketing can also have strategic product exchanges, so as to cut cost of transportation and achieve timely availability target etc. The storage cost can also be lowered by hiring in these facilities for specific periods of time.
The problem of storage and distribution can also be tackled by undertaking bulk vending of the product wherein farmers can get the bags filled and take home with the product, from neighbourhood vending stations. This will save the company the cost of bag and also lower cost for the farmer, to a certain extent. Additionally, this will give the buyer a confidence about the quality and weight of the material since filling will be done in his presence.
In this, process the company can retain the distribution margin. Alternately, a mobile unit mounted on a truck can be operated by the dealers to reach the product to far off rural markets. Such direct selling will cut down channel length and improve the profitability of the dealers.
There is also need to attend to the weight and packing of the product in terms of preventing weight loss during transportation and providing smaller size packs. The losses due to hooking of bags can be reduced by providing a loop on both sides of the bag. There is also need to promote retailer training and customer relations in terms of price, credit, and communication.