Agriculture is the biggest employer in India. Yet, only 13.5 percent of GDP is accountable to agriculture and its allied sectors like forestry and fisheries. A lot has been done to transform the agriculture sector in India and still, a lot needs to be one. Spearheading this transformation is Rajeeb Kumar Roy.
An alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, Rajeeb was always passionate about bringing in the required change in the way agriculture is practiced in India. This is the reason that Madhubani-based Rajeeb refused to take up civil engineering and instead pursue B.Tech in agricultural engineering. It was difficult for him to convince his father for this decision, but he succeeded eventually.
After completing his Masters from IIT Kharagpur, the natural progression would have been getting placed in a well-renowned company. But destiny did not come along the way Rajeeb wanted it to. The campus selections happened to be on the day of Rajeeb’s sister’s marriage. Many of his friends got selected but he did not lose hope and applied in the same company, got the job but for a comparatively less salary.
Even after being from a field of post-harvesting technology, he worked for nine months in a venture that focused on Greenhouse. Upon receiving no hike in salary he decided to move on. He then joined the Pasumai Irrigations, Chennai, and started Greenhouse division there. But soon, the company found itself in a position that it couldn’t pay its employees. Rajeeb visited his boss’ house, requesting him to release his payment, but felt insulted. He thought it’s better not to work than to work without pay.
In 1993, Polyon Barkai Industries Ltd. an Israeli company, that was earlier dealing with Pasumai Irrigations, recognised the caliber of Rajeeb and offered him the distribution of their Greenhouse coverings in India. Though Rajeeb had no experience in marketing, the heads of Marketing and R&D reassured him that he was capable enough to work this out. Later, Polyon Industries merged with another Israeli company named Ginegar Plastic Products Ltd. Post-merger Rajeeb was appointed as the Director, Marketing India for Ginegar Plastic Products Ltd. Soon, after which the company witnessed great success.
But complications seem to find Rajeeb’s address easily. He was flabbergasted when his house was raided by DRI regarding an import case of under-invoicing by one of his customers in 2003. Thereafter, his struggle was for real. The fear of unknown did not let him sleep for 23 nights. He saw this instance as an opportunity to start his own import business. With some borrowings from friends and relatives, he laid the foundation of Agriplast from an 8ft by 12ft car garage at Hosur, Tamil Nadu. The growing success enabled Agriplast to become a private limited company, and in the year 2011, it was one of its kind company that specialized in the use of plastics in agriculture.
Subsequently, he started another company Agriplast Protected Cultivation Pvt. Ltd. to offer complete turnkey in protected farming. Also, inspired by the start-up India initiative by our Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, Rajeeb recently found another venture Agrihub – an agri-specific online discovery platform in India.
The motive is to bring the information of agricultural best practices to the knowledge deficit farmers of India. Rajeeb has a team of 55 people working for Agriplast Tech India, 30 people for Protected Cultivation and 6 of them working in the Agrihub. Today, he has the exclusive distribution of three Israeli, two Dutch and one UK-based companies.
Agriplast Tech India Pvt. Ltd. has a turnover of Rs 55 crore and the Agriplast Protected Cultivation Pvt. Ltd has a turnover of Rs 20 crore. Rajeeb aims at bringing the best global technology to India and provide it for the aspiring farmers. In an interview with KenFolios, Rajeeb gave a message for the youth, “There is no shortcut to success. One should be honest; not only to themselves but also to the nation. One must work hard and try always to give back more than one gets; whether it is your family, your friends or your country.”