Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB) ‐ a 50:50 joint venture between Mahyco and Monsanto Holdings Pvt. Ltd., has sub-licensed the Bollgard II and Bollgard Bt cotton technologies to 33 Indian seed companies. Each of them has introduced the technologies into their seed germplasm. Indian farmers have a choice of over 300 Bt cotton hybrid seeds from over 30 seed companies. Bollgard Bt cotton (first‐generation single‐gene technology) is India’s first biotech crop technology approved for commercialization in India in 2002, followed by Bollgard® II – second‐generation double-gene technology in mid‐2006, by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), the Indian regulatory body for biotech crops.
Bollgard cotton provides in‐built protection for cotton against destructive American Bollworm Heliothis Armigera infestations and contains an insecticidal protein from a naturally occurring soil microorganism, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
Bollgard II technology contains a superior double‐gene technology ‐ Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab which protects bollworms and Spodoptera caterpillars, leading to better boll retention, maximum yield, lower pesticides costs, and protection against insect resistance. Bollgard II.
and Bollgard insect‐protected cotton are widely planted around the world as an environmentally friendly way of controlling bollworms.
In 2009 alone, farmers cultivated the second-generation Bollgard II Bt cotton seeds on 51% of India’s cotton acres, an increase of 153% in one year (i.e114 lakh acres in 2009 vs. 45.1 lakh acres in 2008), simultaneously reducing the cultivation of the single-gene Bollgard bt cotton seeds by 39% (only 78 lakh acres in 2009 vs. 127 lakh acres in 2008).
Thus, in a market where the majority of cotton farmers were using first‐generation Bollgard Bt cotton seeds on 90% of India’s cotton acres, the ‘BGII Pragati Utsaav initiative’ was one of the Bollgard II Bt cotton technology brand’s key rural marketing initiatives to drive farmer upgrade from first‐generation Bollgard to second‐generation Bollgard II technology.
The ‘BGII Pragati Utsaav initiative was conducted, which included health and wellness checks for farmers and their families and veterinary and tractor checkups to drive the positioning of a ‘partner in progress.
The intention was to take ‘Pragati Utsaav’ to as many farmers as possible, and the same farmers would have to be pre‐informed about such an event. Therefore two challenges have surfaced as the campaign’s reach in terms of conducting checkup camps across the target area with equal consistency and ensuring footfalls to the same.
Activity has targeted the cotton-growing belt of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, with total coverage of 65 main villages and 470 sub-villages in proximity to the main villages.
Campaign Theme: Under the ‘Bollgard II Pragti Utsaav Initiative’ property, the team introduced ‘Har Waqt Mein Aapka Saathi.’ The idea was to present farmers with a symbol of being a partner in progress, which leads to prosperity and fulfilling the farmer’s dreams for his farm and family, e.g., a tractor, a pucca home, and better education for his children.
Since reach would drive higher footfalls for the activity, the Ascent team adopted a two‐pronged approach wherein coverage to the target area was aimed by reaching out to the main villages where the “Pragati Utsav” was to take place; and sub-villages (nearby villages) were targeted for pulling the footfall.
The main village was chosen as the venue for the camps, and sub-villages were targeted for pre-event promotion. The team Ascent identified some important touchpoints in target villages like ‘Anganwadi’ ‘Panchayat,’ bus stand, and local shops (Paan‐Bidi) for pre-event promotion by handing out leaflets and having a word with people across these touchpoints.
On average, at least 5 villages were covered and, at times, the number went up to 11. The team had to ensure that their visit to that particular village paid off in terms of getting footfall to the main village.
So on the street, the houses were strategically targeted, and one-to-one contact was established with the household.
By doing so, a long-lasting word of mouth was triggered. Leaflets printed in the local language were distributed along with banners at key locations.
The pre‐event promotion team comprised 4 key persons as promoters, along with a branded Tata ace vehicle. The team was tasked with paving the way for the main event, “Bollgard II Pragati Utsav,” in mobilizing farmers and their families alike and conveying how they can benefit from “Bollgard II Pragati Utsav”. A total of two such teams were deployed for Madhya Pradesh & Maharashtra, respectively.
On the other hand, the main event team had one qualified MBBS doctor, a Veterinary doctor, and one experienced mechanic for a tractor checkup.
This apart, the team had one Anchor, one event coordinator, one supervisor, and 2 promoters. The convoy had two vehicles. Of which one was a carrier vehicle like Eicher, and the second one was a staff vehicle. This team had to visit the target area covered by the pre-event promotion team and had to deliver on the expectation set by the same.
The route plan, keeping in mind the cotton-growing belt of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, was developed to ensure maximum coverage in a day. The two teams, one for pre-event promotion and the main event, visited the main village back to back for two days. The pre-event team had an extended role in doing pre-event promotions at sub-villages.
Snakes & ladder was renamed “Pragati Ki Sidi” wherein snakes were replaced by bollworms, and ladders were represented as “Pragati Ki Sidi.”
The experience of walking over aboard to play the snakes & ladder game has been a hit and attracted a good number of eyeballs. In addition to this attraction, Anchor has added spice and fun to the game using the local language. A 30-minute engagement has seen close to two rounds of games, and in a day, close to 4 shows were conducted.
During 25 days of activity in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the total count of patients who benefited from the health check was 724 and 620, respectively. In a day, close to 54 patients visited the camp.
Regarding the veterinary camp, 488 and 113 animals were brought to MH & MP, respectively. The average animal at the veterinary camp remained at 24.
Also, the tractor checkup too witnessed a reasonably good result, as 72 tractors appeared for checkups from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra combined.
As far as engagement is concerned, a tally of 332 winners was registered in two target states.
Farmers testified at Bollgard II Pragati Utsaav’s, driving word‐of‐mouth and increased Bollgard II adoption.