The BD Act, 2002, envisages a mutually beneficial relationship between grassroot societies and businesses engaged in use of bioresources and traditional knowledge. Valagro Biosciences and Telangana farmers have demonstrated how Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) can achieve this vision. Valagro Biosciences Ltd was successfully able to obtain resources for its research, and shared financial benefits while effectively sharing its research with the villagers. Valagro Biosciences Ltd, located in Hyderabad, is one of the leading companies involved in producing and commercialising bio stimulants, biofertilizers and biocontrol products. It has a mandate to improve agricultural systems through sustainable agricultural development based on its own technologically innovative practices. Valagro Biosciences has a research and development facility to investigate options to enhance methods that help farmers get better yields from their crop lands. The company actively engaged farmers and locals as important stakeholders in the ABS process. The site of the Valagro laboratory is in an industrial belt outside Hyderabad city. The company took prior permission from the NBA and focused on inclusivity by carrying out deliberations between panchayats and the locals, which helped farmers of 11 neighbouring villages from 3 different districts of Telangana better understand the purpose of collection of bioresources. Six legally binding agreements were officially signed with NBA initially for Research and Development. Eleven agreements were made with the NBA for commercialization of these bioresources. Access and Benefit Sharing mechanism was negotiated with the panchayats and soil samples were obtained.

Need for the Initiative

Valagro Bioscience Ltd. applied to the NBA for collecting soil samples for the purpose of commercialization of bio-resources and initiated their work in the year 2017. The Access and Benefit Sharing mechanism was negotiated between the company and a group of village panchayats for accessing soil from their fields for research and development. As a result of this collaborative approach, Valagro Biosciences Ltd. paid a benefit sharing amount of Rs. 28.7 lakhs. The Valagro Biosciences Ltd. has given an amount of Rs. 28.7 lakhs as equitable sharing to the NBA. Out of which NBA has transferred ABS money of 26 lakhs as per rules to the Telangana State Biodiversity Board. The SBB has further shared Rs 25.7 lakh with all 11 BMCs from where the bio resource was collected amounting to Rs. 2.34 lakhs. The amount received by the Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) from this company through the Telangana Biodiversity Board and NBA was utilised for activities such as village development works, and awareness and conservation efforts by setting up of a Biodiversity Park, a butterfly park, medicinal plant parks, benches, display boards, and wall paintings on biodiversity. Some amount of money was also used to promote education through the purchase of computers for schools, and a setting up of a library at the Panchayat office. Livelihood opportunities were also created through the purchase of a Leaf-plate making machine. Local farmers whose agricultural crops and soils were utilised were also directly benefited.

Conservation Initiatives and Impacts

The company gave the locals an informal understanding of benefits such as a percentage share of income based on the success of the product in the market. The company took the initiative to explain the concept of the work to the BMC members through a PowerPoint presentation to ensure its thorough understanding. The company took the initiative to explain the concept of the work to the BMC members through a PowerPoint presentation to ensure its thorough understanding. The company successfully developed two bio stimulants and launched them in the Indian market at the Future Farming Event, 2019. Success of ABS depends on dialogue between communities and businesses; hence such good practices can be used as models that can be replicated. Research that directly impacts community livelihood garners cooperation of locals. Effective communication of scientific results to the local community through comprehensive presentations is an effective way to take the community on-board and keep them involved in a productive manner. The potential for scale up depends on the monetary value of the bio resource present in a particular state. For example, Andhra Pradesh collects several crores in ABS, and most of this amount comes from use of red sanders. Whereas states such as Bihar are able to collect only a few lakhs for ABS. Non-Monetary ABS alternatives can be explored. Options such as joint Intellectual Property rights between the company and BMCs, and training of bright students from the community and nurturing them in high skills R&D through scholarships and internships can be explored.

Recognition in India Biodiversity Awards