HR challenges across the pest control and fumigation business in India and their way outs

HR challenges across the pest control and fumigation business in India and their way outs
Talent movement from fumigation to agrochemical sector has been a common trend. Right candidates in pest control business are easy to find in case the company is operating in B2C and slightly difficult in the B2B segment, Ritesh Bhardwaj writes…

The increasing awareness of public health has compelled people to adopt pest control services on a regular basis in residential and commercial spaces. The Indian fumigation industry has witnessed exponential growth because of technological advancements and efficient product research and development. The Indian pesticide market is expected to be worth approximately INR 342 billion by 2028.

The ISPM-15 Standard (New International Regulation) has made stricter global regulatory inspections and controls for fumigation practices. Fumigations are applied where the regulations have mandated zero tolerance in goods or premises or zero discharge in the production norms. The fumigation treatment process needs a high degree of expertise in the application.

The global pest control market is expected to reach approximately USD 31.94 billion whereas the Indian fumigation product market is expected to reach USD 918.3 million by 2027 with a CAGR of 6.3 per cent.

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The expected skill set of talent in the industry has changed over the years because of strict norms, complex chemistries, and technical knowledge requirements for each role. The work profile within the industry is non-glamorous and still involves manual activity. The talent movement from fumigation to the agrochemical sector has been a common trend. The right candidates in the pest control business are easy to find in case the company is operating in B2C (business to customer) and slightly difficult in the B2B (business to business) segment. The reason is upcountry locations and mostly the work profile involves long-distance travel to factory and warehouse locations. This sector has observed an average of 30 per cent attrition over the years at the frontline level and 20 per cent attrition at the middle level. Hence, the average tenure of any new hires is eighteen months.

Hiring and retaining talent in the fumigation and pest control industry is key because the cost involved in training and certification (for fumigation and storage) of the resources is very high. As per the guidelines of the Insecticide Act, 1968 and Rules, 1971, the frontline workforce must undergo the residential training in pest management and fumigation imparted by Indian Grain Storage Management & Research Institute (IGMRI), Hapur or National Institute of Plant Health Management (NIPHM), Hyderabad or CSIR – Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore.

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The technical knowledge of products and applications is critical to succeed in this sector. Multinational companies are already working extensively on the R&D of new pest control chemistries because, over the years, pests have developed resistance to the old chemistries. Hence, there is an extensive amount of research and development in developing green chemistry is expected in this sector.

Finally, since this industry was not in the limelight since its inception, the companies operating in this sector must act fast to overcome the above issues by developing the right model for – hiring, induction, training, and retention.

Navigating through these challenges requires organisations to be responsive, agile, and innovative. Therefore, understanding the intricacies and relevance of the employee lifecycle, followed by constant sector-level deliberations around building a strong talent pool, would result in enabling a sustainable organisation with customer centricity as a core.

(Ritesh Bhardwaj is the CHRO at National Bulk Handling Corporation (NBHC). Views expressed in the article are author’s own.)

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About Ritesh Bhardwaj

Ritesh Bhardwaj comes with over 17 years of corporate experience in human resource function across diverse sectors namely FMCG, FMCD, Pharma, and Agriculture. He brings a strong blend of general management and HR functional skills to NBHC and is instrumental in creating a progressive culture through driving efficiencies, which are in alignment with business needs.

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