To Sunil Kulwal, a leader who has moved through several sectors of the business world, successful leadership is the ability to reimagine, innovate and reinvent the business model – something that Indo Gulf Fertilisers is currently undergoing.
Since coming into the role of CEO at India’s leading agri-solutions provider, Sunil has been enthusiastic about the prospect of not only having an impact on society but also benefiting the lives of farmers directly.
Under his leadership, Indo Gulf has continued its dedication of time and resources towards ensuring India’s agriculture thrives. "We have a straightforward purpose, which is prosperous farmers," Sunil states.
"There are a lot of opportunities to make farmers’ lives in India better. One of my missions has always been, ‘How can I help people live happier lives?’" From sowing to harvesting, Indo Gulf develops solutions and products for each stage of cultivation.
The business reaches around six million farmers through a customer-centric approach of soil testing, farmer group meetings and field days.
"The fertiliser business is exciting because we are connecting with the farmers. They are the backbone of humanity and any society. Farmers provide edibles to the entire population," Sunil says.
"Whatever a farmer does in terms of quality, quantity and variety of produce fundamentally helps the society to live a happy life." While aiding the agriculture trade is one point of significance, the other is business growth.
"The vision is to be a premier agri-solutions provider. Our focus is on prosperous farmers while sustaining organisational growth," Sunil explains. Currently operating across seven states in India, the business has expanded from being a urea organisation and producer to implementing solutions for the whole agriculture sector.
That includes seeds, pesticides, plant health products and soil conditioners. "Our goal is to be a pan-India agri-solution partner," Sunil says. For Indo Gulf to achieve its desired expansion plans, the company will start offering its Shaktiman brand of products to additional states in the near future.
It will also collaborate with agriculture universities, where agri experts provide knowledge and solutions to farmers to achieve higher yield and better quality products. Increasing digitalisation is another element Sunil addresses.
The fertiliser business is exciting because we are connecting with the farmers. They are the backbone of humanity and any society. Farmers provide edibles to the entire population.
By expanding its digital systems, Indo Gulf will be able to better communicate with farmers about the weather and yield – while also offering education and advice. "Digitalisation is going to be the future of agriculture," he stresses.
Innovation and technology will improve current practices drastically and help both farmers and organisations. The third area needing attention is EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) and sustainability.
Indo Gulf, being a responsible organisation, always adheres to the highest level of EHS and sustainability practices, says Sunil. For its superior performance in EHS, Indo Gulf Fertilisers recently received the Centre for Science and Environment’s Four Green Leaves Award from Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.
Looking at next year and beyond, Indo Gulf is working towards expanding its agri-solution to another five states. Sunil confirms that the groundwork has already started. "We have appointed people and are in the process of finalising channels. Those five states should be operational by next year."
The business will continue its growth with an additional six states the year after. "We are setting up our team and distribution channel there to work with the farmers," he explains. "We will do farm trials of our products, educate the farmers, learn from the local agri-universities and NGOs, and work with people who can help us reach farmers in a faster and better manner."
In any business, challenges are neither surprising nor unavoidable. A few of the obstacles the nation’s agriculture sector currently faces are deteriorating soil conditions, low farm yields and occasionally a high quantum of pesticide residual, which results in products not being qualified for exports.
"There are many challenges along the way. But when there are challenges, there are countless opportunities." Sunil refers to opportunities of increasing farm yield, quality of produce and farmers’ income.
"It’s a journey that will allow us to discover the art of possibility when we work mutually with farmers, agri-universities and Indian and global experts – all to bring the best to our farmers and help them to be more prosperous." The outlook for Indo Gulf and India’s agriculture is certainly fruitful.
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