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Since 2006, Advanta has been the global seed enterprise of United Phosphorus Ltd (UPL), an Indian multinational focusing on agricultural inputs. Advanta’s seed portfolio encompasses field crops, vegetables and forage crops. The company considers smallholder farmers its main clientele and is driven by its parent company’s principle of ‘farmer first’. It sells its seed in 64 countries, with 25% of its revenue from South Asia and 30% from Southeast Asia. In this subregion, Pacific Seeds is Advanta Thailand’s key brand. In South and Southeast Asia, Advanta’s main crops are maize, okra and rice.DownloadCompany
Advanta performs well in the South and Southeast Asia Index, ranking fourth out of 24 companies. In Marketing & Sales, its activities such as demonstration and promotion activities are comprehensive and reach a wide target group of farmers across the index region. Together with its parent company UPL, Advanta carries out capacity building activities such as training, ICT-based extension services, and input supply and guidance. It also performs well in Intellectual Property. In Research & Development, its relatively wide portfolio covers most index crops, except field legumes, and a few local crops as well. However, it could do more regarding the conservation and use of genetic resources.
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The company demonstrates leadership with its okra assurance scheme in India. Under this initiative, smallholder farmers were provided, at no extra cost, with assurance against yellow vein mosaic virus and okra leaf curl virus on its okra hybrid during the peak virus infestation season in 2017. The scheme is the first of its kind, according to Advanta, as other insurance schemes only protect against weather anomalies. Advanta worked with multiple partners to install weather stations and a digital database to track and maintain crop health and performance.
Advanta primarily reports on its business activities in South Asia. The company is encouraged to increase public disclosure of its activities in Southeast Asia as well.
Advanta and its parent company UPL contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals through their operations, with a particular emphasis on SDG #1 (No poverty) and #2 (Zero hunger).
Advanta states that it allocates 20-25% of annual turnover to improving access to seeds for smallholder farmers.
The company involves farmer organizations in its seed production, with about 90% participation from smallholder or marginal farmers. In India alone, this amounts to about 30,000 smallholder and marginal farmers.
The company provides formal contracts to seed growers. It also provides financial support to farmers by giving them an advance of 20-30% of the total production cost. The company organizes pre-season meetings and various training programs for growers.
In 2017, the Council on Ethics for the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) raised its concerns about the usage of child labor in the agriculture industry in India, including partners of Advanta. In response to the concerns raised, Advanta submitted a reply wherein it reported how it contractually binds its growers, farmers and organizers against the use of child labor. Advanta further reports that it is initiating various other initiatives such as spot checks, local level awareness raising campaigns, as well as encouraging and sponsoring child education, to enable the company to improve its compliance programs and work towards the reduction or eradication of the use of child labor in the industry.
UPL supplies comprehensive farming solutions, from seed to protection chemicals. UPL also provides instructions on the appropriate use of these inputs through its ‘Adarsh Farmer Training program’ in Assam, India, whereby farmers serve as hired ambassadors to showcase the use of inputs to local villagers.
Advanta has extensive demonstration and promotion activities throughout the region. Pre-growing season, the company organizes awareness-raising campaigns on the use of hybrid seeds that include training on nutritional and water requirements, and visiting farms and villages by jeep. Demonstration samples are distributed to farmers in India. Post-season, Advanta collects feedback from farmers and shares testimonials of product performance.
As a pilot project, Advanta has developed a mobile application targeting about 3,000 farmers to share information such as best practices, product information and market updates. The app is also a way to collect feedback from local farmers through a toll-free call center.
UPL organizes training programs in India on pest and nutrient management. Through its subsidiary Unimart, farmers can access solutions and guidance on weather, market prices and technical issues by SMS and call center. Around 1.5 million farmers are registered for this service.
In three Indian states, UPL’s Adarshmitra project aims to teach village youth about the importance of farm mechanization.