Advancing Chinese technology benefits crop protection
London, UK, March, 2011 - China is now big business for industries at the cutting edge of science and technology – and the crop protection sector is no exception.
Few countries have integrated into the world’s economy as fast or as significantly as China. Its increasing status in the global market certainly makes impressive reading with the territory rated as world number one as a foreign exchange reserve; number two for gross domestic product; and third for its international trade value.
China is also amongst the world’s biggest in terms of railway mileage; high speed trains; production and sale of automotives; computer technologies; mobile phones; textiles and ship building, with particular strengths in chemical synthesis and technology. It’s understandably attracted significant attention and investment.
Yet, some perceptions of China can paint a deceiving picture. Paul Savage, Rotam’s Northern European marketing manager, explains that prior to joining Rotam and visiting China, his view was of a country producing predominantly low cost – inferior or counterfeit – materials; “But, while that clearly still goes on, there is a whole new side to China’s development that is at the cutting edge of science on a global scale,” he says.
Paul joined Rotam in September and explains that the business is amongst the innovative, young companies that have invested heavily in technology and new facilities in China are now emerging as global leaders – with Rotam now a global player, selling products in 60 countries worldwide.
Their Chinese manufacturing base offers the crop protection firm some major benefits. “China has adopted a high level of sophistication in the quality and registration of agrochemicals yet high performance products can still be developed whilst allowing the firm to continue offering customer value.
Dr. Yifan Wu, Rotam’s Head of Production and Research in China explains the company’s fit in the crop protection market; “Principally our business involves taking off-patent crop protection chemistry, with a scope for innovation, and extending its appeal.
“R&D for us is an investment that allows us to innovate and develop a new generation of agricultural products. By enhancing and improving delivery mechanisms, pioneering the use of new technology to remove impurities and developing new surfactant systems; we improve the base characteristics of the active that result in higher performance and also cleaner new takes on existing chemistry.”
And their Chinese R&D plants are central to their success, believes Dr. Wu. “Compared with the western world, whose plants are now approaching 20, or even 30 years old; Rotam’s facilities employ state-of-the-art kit and a new R&D centre boasts their own laboratories and integrated manufacturing facilities. Rotam also offer independent product registration capabilities and technical support, which transfers on a worldwide scale.
“So while in the West improvements may be made using a ‘sticking plaster’ approach as plant facilities are in such limited supply with ever fewer graduates studying chemistry, it’s not a problem we share,” he says.
The team behind Rotam are also well-educated scientists, qualified to degree level and beyond, with a thirst to learn – a key strength of the business. And connections to their sister companies in the pharmaceutical industry mean they can use cross over technology to enable the highest production standards, also giving Rotam the purchasing power and access to raw materials that delivers customers benefits of economies of scale without compromising quality.
“We are operating in an industry where fewer new actives are reaching the market and potentially a number are being removed. It therefore makes sense to make better and more efficient use of existing chemistry,” concludes Paul.