Monsanto is selling its branded cotton seeds business in India to Hyderabad-based Tierra Agrotech, although the US biotechnology major would remain invested in farming segments such as corn seeds, crop protection, vegetables and Bollgard II technologies.
Industry sources said the exit from India, where Monsanto pioneered the use of genetically modified (GM) technology, will help secure regulatory approval for Bayer’s acquisition of the US company. The global majors have earlier announced sales of businesses in other markets to address regulatory concerns over the merger.
Monsanto has faced headwinds in the cotton seeds market and threatened to exit India after New Delhi had imposed price controls. It has also faced scrutiny under India’s competition laws, and is locked in a bitter dispute with a major player in the Indian seeds market, Nuziveedu Seeds, which also uses Monsanto’s Bt Cotton technology.
The dispute is currently being adjudicated at the Delhi High Court, where the government has also become a party.
A Monsanto spokesperson said that over the past year, the company has implemented a series of steps globally to manage market challenges, while strategically positioning its businesses for future growth.
“Given the strategic choices, we have signed an agreement with Tierra Agrotech Private Limited to pursue the sale of the branded cotton seed business, which will be effective subsequent to the necessary approvals,” the spokesperson for Monsanto India. Monsanto said the business had a promising outlook.
“We continue to believe that the branded cotton portfolio, with the current pipeline, has the potential to benefit India’s cotton farmers and grow in the future. It would be best nurtured by an organisation like Tierra organisation like Tierra Agrotech,” the spokesperson said.
Suresh Atluri, MD of Tierra Atluri, MD of Tierra Agrotech, was not reachable for comments on the purchase.
Monsanto, whose Bt Cotton seeds have dominated cotton cultivation for years, said it remained committed to the Indian market.
“We plan to continue bringing innovative research to our businesses in corn seeds, vegetable seeds, crop protection solutions and innovative digital agriculture tools,” Monsanto said.
Its technology is licensed to more than 40 Indian companies. The head of one of the seed companies said that the licensing agreement mandates the use of Monsanto’s logo in the packets of seeds sold by the Indian firm.
In addition, Monsanto sells cotton seeds under the ‘Paras Brahma’ brand, while Bayer sells its seeds under the ‘Surpass’ brand.