INDUSTRY INTERACTION SESSION WITH MR. VIKAS SONI (HEAD,STRATEGY & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, SYNGENTA ASIA PACIFIC LTD.)

Looking into the minute details, perseverance and readiness to accept and learn from our failures were some of the very memorable messages that Mr. Vikas Soni (Head, Strategy & Business Development, Syngenta Asia Pacific Ltd.) illuminated in his address to the students of IIM Amritsar. In an informative and thought-provoking session on agriculture, rural market and methods to improve the life of a rice grower, Mr. Soni, enlightened the students about various opportunities, facts and challenges.

Mr. Soni encouraged students to take failures as the lessons for the prospects. He enlightened the audience about the current challenges that are faced by the agriculture industry such as the ever-growing population to feed, increased calorie consumption, fragmented crops, limited land and its yield, biological limit of soil, pollution hazards, water crisis, low acceptance of technology by traditional farmers, lack of awareness, misconceptions about innovation, declining appeal of farming as an occupation, weaker policies, etc. He later described the goal and ambition of his firm, Syngenta, which strives day in and day out to bring greater food security to this ever populous world, in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Working in an industry that is going through a consolidation phase (with Syngenta itself being acquired by ChemChina) and is hugely dependent on the commodity prices, has its own set of concerns but the agriculture and pharma-allied sectors have much more to offer in terms of security from inflation and the quality of problems one gets to solve in order to make a real difference to the world. Syngenta deals with huge chunks of genetic data for which it has data specialists and analysts, Research & Development scientists and engineers for bringing in new innovative technologies which do not always require a candidate to have a comprehensive knowledge about agriculture and its allied sciences. Mr. Soni also talked about one of its major crop, Rice that is among the six crops Syngenta predominantly deals with. He sensitized the students about the extremely hot and humid as well as difficult conditions, a typical rice farm laborer has to deal with. His organization aims to bring an easy and helpful solution to simplify their efforts and lives. With much planning and strategizing, his team brought TEGRA, a solution that provided end-to-end services that imparted high-quality facilitation to farmers by actively involving into the entire rice production and selling process.

With much introspection and a lot of R&D work, Mr. Vikas Soni realized his mistakes and then came up with the improved version of TEGRA Nursery solution. This new innovation is basically a dry, lightweight and robust mat that could result in high-quality rice yield with minimum cost, time & effort. This solution, which in its initial experimentation stage, is a boon for all those farmers that struggle in harsh labor and climatic conditions involved in rice farming. In the end, Mr. Soni shared some key mantras which he had accumulated from his diverse set of experiences such as one needs to build and maintain connections, focus on soft skills and must accept that we do not live in a world of perfect information. Most of the times, we need to work with too much but less useful information and at that time, our ability to segregate knowledge from noise comes handy. Last of all, in his words, Mr. Vikas Soni concluded his enriching and mentally stimulating lecture- “It is very difficult to find out the exact tipping point in real life and what seems intuitive does not apply in every situation. Hence, we must learn and build upon from our experiences and persevere till we meet our end goals.” We thank Mr. Vikas Soni for his invaluable insights that will assist IIM Amritsar students in learning, growing and implementing them further in their career as well as lives.

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