Mr. Samir Somaiya in a conversation with ChiniMandi News expressed views on the Indian sugar industry and way forwardCHINIMANDI NEWS | Aug 19, 2020
The Indian sugar millers have been reeling from various crises like unsold sugar stocks, cane dues, unpaid interests etc. Coronavirus pandemic has also aggravated the crisis exponentially by hitting the sugar industry in terms of trends in feasibility of performance, production capacity, consumer market or precisely every factor that is incorporated to make this wheel from farmer to consumer run smoothly. A bailout package seems to be the only favorable solution demanded by the sugar millers at present.
In a conversation with ChiniMandi News, Mr.Samir Somaiya – Chairman & Managing Director at Godavari Biorefineries Ltd. expressed his views on the current scenario of the Indian sugar industry and way forward.
Speaking on the steps the Government should take in order to bailout the industry from crisis. He said, “The Government is already taking steps in the right direction to help the industry and also see the industry as a growth engine. India has proven itself to be a surplus producer of sugarcane. This sugarcane surplus has to be seen as a resource to meet our food and energy needs. The Government realizes this and has announced a bold policy to encourage the use of sugarcane juice/syrup and B Heavy molasses to ethanol. This will be used for ethanol blending with petrol to meet the energy security of the country. The Government is also encouraging the making of 2G ethanol (from cellulose) and Bio-CNG. These are far reaching changes and will transform the face of the industry and indeed the rural economy. But this process takes time. Sugar companies will need to get regulatory approvals and finance to build these distillation assets. Until then, the surplus sugar will have to be exported.”
“The Government has also announced good policies for the export of this sugar. In the current season, India has exported almost 6 million tons of sugar, the highest ever. We are hoping that the Government of India announces a similar policy for the coming season, so that the Indian sugar once again finds its way in the global market.
The Government should also make sure that the price of sugar and ethanol are remunerative in proportion to the price of cane. Currently, the Indian sugarcane prices as a function of sugar price are among the highest in the world. We understand that the farmer needs a remunerative price, but in that case, the sugar or ethanol price must be raised accordingly. With these policy changes, the Indian sugarcane industry will again be a sunshine industry.” He added.
Commenting on demand, supply dynamics play in the upcoming season considering the after effects of the outbreak of Covid-19 Mr. Somaiya said, “There is definitely a slowdown in the sale of sugar. With much of the economy slowly emerging from the lockdown, we hope that the demand picks up as well. The Government is likely to fix a minimum selling price of sugar of Rs. 33 per kg. We expect the price of sugar to be above this level.”
Sharing his views on what measures Indian sugar industry should take to step up for the ethanol production programme and also how his organization is taking steps to be exemplary for the Indian sugar industry in building a sustainable bio-fuel economy he shared, “The millers must quickly apply for regulatory and financial approvals and take steps to divert their sugar surplus to ethanol.
Godavari Biorefineries Limited is very keen on supporting the Government of India’s bio-fuel economy programme. We expanded our distillery from 200,000 lpd to 320,000 lpd in the last season. For the coming season, we are expanding our distillery capacity to 400,000 lpd. Like many sugar companies in Brazil, we have created optionality in choosing between sugar and ethanol. In the coming year, we will be making ethanol via sugarcane syrup and B Heavy molasses. We expect to divert over 40% of our sugars to make ethanol. As a company, we are also keen on working on 2G ethanol, and Bio-CNG policies that the Government is actively promoting. We have also pioneered the use of renewable feedstocks to make a variety of chemicals, materials and renewable power finding applications in pharmaceuticals, agriculture, flavours and fragrances coatings, and more. We are also working with farmers to help them intercrop and improve their agronomy so that they farm and earn better.”
Being asked, knowing that India can be the largest ethanol producer in the world, what long term policies should the Government take for the industry to develop looking at the current scenario and what immediate measures may be required in making the dynamics of demand supply play well Mr. Somaiya said, “Brazil and the USA are very large players in ethanol in the world, and to get to those levels, India will need a wide variety of renewable biomass. But, the Government is already trying to increase the blending percentage and has made bold targets to move towards a 20% blend rate. I think promoting flex fuel cars like in Brazil would be a next step to further encourage higher adoption. And in states that are already ethanol surplus, the blend rate can be increased quicker.”
Signed a Memorandum Of Understanding for working on a project 'Biomass For All’May 24, 2018
'Godavari Biorefineries is proud to announce that we we have signed a Memorandum Of Understanding for working on a project 'Biomass For All’, in the presence of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Honourable Mark Rutte, and the Minister for Agriculture and Deputy Prime Minister, Carola Schouten.
This project aims to develop and implement new biomass based sustainable value chains in partnership with experts, solution providers, financiers and market players from The Netherlands and India.
We are working on ways to ensure that biomass is transformed into new products to maximise value addition in generating sustainable new business and livelihoods. And we will reduce the negative environmental, social and health impacts (as air pollution) as much as possible.'
Partners : Signed the MOU : Somaiya Group/Godavari Biorefineries Ltd., MVO Nederland (CSR Netherlands), ECOR, Avans University of Applied Sciences, The Biosfera Foundation, Center for Responsible Business (CRB), Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, IndiaConnected, Nettenergy, PaperWise, Rika Biofuels Development Ltd., Sonalika ITL, The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology (TIET), Wageningen University Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Group (AFSG)
Samir Somaiya's interview at the World Bio Markets Conference in Amsterdam, held in March 2018Mar 31, 2018
Our Chairman, Samir Somaiya's article on 'Building a Modern Biorefinery' appeared in the June edition of Industrial BiotechnologyJun 01, 2017
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Samir Somaiya’s Interview at ISO DATAGRO NEW YORK SUGAR AND ETHANOL CONFERENCE 2017May 10, 2017
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Godavari Biorefineries Limited opens new R & D center at Navi MumbaiChemical Weekly | Feb 17, 2017
Godavari Biorefineries Ltd. (GBL), a Somaiya group company, inaugurated its new research & development laboratory, Genesis Labs, at Navi Mumbai, on February 1, 2017.
The new centre will house innovation projects primarily in the areas of biobased chemicals and materials, including novel processes for several well-known industrial chemicals that GBL is currently developing.
Comprehensive architecture of value addition from agricultural feedstock
Speaking at the inauguration of the laboratory, Mr. Samir Somaiya, Chairman & Managing Director, GBL, reiterated the company’s vision to stay in the business of renewable chemicals, despite the several challenges. “We want knowledge to be the differentiator in our business, at a time when sugar, alcohol etc. have become commoditised and politicised. We have drawn a comprehensive architecture of value addition from agricultural feedstock and this research laboratory is a key component of this strategy,” he told a small gathering assembled at the laboratory to mark the inauguration.
Mr. Somaiya also highlighted the challenges posed by uncertainty in the sugarcane business, which have at times seen cane yields plunge from 40-tonnes/ ha to 20-tonnes/ ha, with additional drop in the sugar content of cane juice. “The product portfolio that we are currently planning is an incredible response to the challenges of farming, environmental challenges and commoditisation. Within three to four years we will demonstrate this with concrete projects on the ground,” he promised.
Ethanol: misplaced emphasis on usage as fuel
Prof. M.M. Sharma, former Director, Institute of Chemical Technology, who inaugurated the laboratory, highlighted the role of technology as a driver of growth and a challenger of the status quo. He referred to the long history of innovation in the chemical industry, and the shifting of the feedstock base – from coal, to petroleum fractions and biomass.
According to Prof. Sharma, India had a long-standing policy of using ethanol for chemical manufacture, but a misplaced emphasis on using it as a fuel, by blending in gasoline, has led to the demise of several ethanol-based chemical units. “A valuable molecule is being burnt today, and that too not efficiently. It is far better to convert the ethanol to a oxygenate such as ETBE (ethyl tert-butyl ether), rather than use it directly as a blend in gasoline.”
Sugar factories, he added, should look to exploit bagasse far more effectively, and value-add by making several chemicals, rather than just use it as a fuel in boilers. He also called for gainful utilisation of lignin – available in abundance whenever any biomass is processed.
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A Story Sweetened Over The YearsChemical Today Magazine | Feb 08, 2017
Godavari is a story sweetened over 77 years and stands on the pillars of three generations. From sugar production to over 20 different products from sugar cane, the company has come a long way.
Almost eight decades back, a young man, looking for work, met a few Marwari traders. They asked him if he could help them trade sugar in Maharashtra. He said “yes” and started trading. Slowly and eventually, he entered into the manufacturing of sugar and in 1939, Godavari Sugar Mills was established. Today, Godavari is a story sweetened over 77 years and stands on the pillars of three generations. Since its inception, Godavari Sugar Mills donned upon numerous avatars- from sugar production and sugarcane farming to ethanol distillation in the 1960s and later it entered into the manufacturing of ethanol based chemicals by the early 70s.
More recently, the company reinvented itself as Godavari Bio-Refineries and added value to agriculture feedstock by not just making sugar, but also, bio fuel, renewable electricity and a range of commodity and specialty chemicals.
Milestone of change
Staying ahead of times, Godavari, in its very early phase decided to think beyond the borders and work towards international trade. Change in government policies in 1992 created a challenging environment for the company. Godavari decided to confront the challenge and reinvent itself.
“During the time of liberalisation, the government lowered the import duties into India. They also removed the controlled price of molasses, which was the raw material for us. Taken together, the government regulations changed as far the local molasses market was concerned and with the lowering of duties on chemicals, we were exposed to international competition,” said Samir Somaiya, chairman & managing director, Godavari Biorefineries Ltd.
“These were the two significant changes in the external environment which made us think that as we prepare ourselves for the future, we want to grow in a way so that we can compete with the global competition. This meant that our products need to be of exportable quality and we need to be knowledge driven,” continued the third generation entrepreneur of the company.
And thus, Godavari steered its organisational direction towards strengthening its research knowhow. “In those days, the 90s, research and development was just a quality control measure. We however decided to start developing our own knowhow and become a company that would be at the cutting edge of research,” said Somaiya.
Today, Godavari Biorefineries boasts of its deep rooted research and development practices for enabling the company to become one of the largest sugar producers in India in single location and one of the leading manufacturer of ethanol, ethanol based organic chemicals, renewable power & bio fertilizers.
“As a fresh chemical engineering graduate, the first assignment that my father gave to me was to develop a department for research that can make products to face international competition and a department that will try to strengthen company’s exports. My skills were put to test immediately and the team that I built then is still there today,” recalled Somaiya.
The company currently has a team of over 30 persistent scientists working towards making new products and innovation.
The company has two large manufacturing locations in Maharashtra and Karnataka. Sugarcane as a feedstock is converted to sugar, ethanol and electricity. Ethanol is then converted to a range of commodity solvents and specialty chemicals. The company currently manufacturers about 20 products from sugarcane and is now working on making products from Bagasse other than electricity.
The company also manufactures natural waxes and compost and has also recently entered the branded segment with sugar, salt and turmeric under the brand name Jivana. “Our chemical products go into a wide variety of fields such as printing inks, intermediates of pharmaceutical, paints, cosmetics, frothers, etc. This all comes from a knowledge driven approach to business,” said Somiaya.
Solutions for the industry
- Flavours and Fragrances
- Mining: Replacing MIBC as a frother due to its carcinogenic property
- Plasticizers: Working on replacing carcinogenic phthalates
- Cosmetics: Making natural skin-friendly emollients
- Renewable Power: Using sugarcane as feedstock to make renewable energy via Bagasse.
- Inks & Coatings: Using Green and renewable solvents
An organisation’s credibility comes from its quality. Godavari Biorefineries has ingrained quality in its DNA. “Quality is not just one thing but needs to be looked at as a whole in terms of product quality, process quality, the quality of the facility and the quality of the relationship that the organisation has with the people it works within the company and outside in the community,” said Somaiya.
Apart from a combination of certifications, the company believes in improving quality and productivity from the base level. “We continuously work with our farmers to see how their yield can be improved, ensure their soil is healthier and employ sustainable practices to get higher and good quality yields while improving the farmer’s productivity,” he added.
The company has been striving to reach sustainability in every aspect of production and functioning. Their work towards water conservations and management and their recent endeavour to reduce water consumption in the facility by half, got them recognition from ICC and FICCI. In a time where every global organisation is striving to achieve high sustainability in their operations, interestingly at Godavari, more than 65% of the inputs come from renewable resources already. “For more sustainability, we are now focusing on the new products and are trying to make them from renewable resources as well. We are also trying to see how we can make our farmers more sustainable in terms of inputs they use in their farm,” explained Somaiya.With various collaborations with agricultural institutions, research organisations, and experts along with farmer education, awareness and participation, the company has been constantly trying to achieve more productivity with less land, chemicals, water and other natural resources are develop solutions to ensure sustainability of agriculture.
An organisation is built by its employees. Moving ahead with over 1,500 people employed by the organisation, Mr. Somaiya believes in going beyond the ordinary. The motto - Earn with a 100 hands and give back with 1,000, is just one way in which company believes in paying back its debt to the society.
“A combination of various factors culminates into making us a company which constantly works towards productivity enhancement. In this process we also try to do a whole social transformation with us. And we have been doing this way before ‘social responsibility’ became a buzz word,” said Somaiya.
The company recently launched three products in the last two years and has over five to seven products in the pipeline to be commissioned in the next 2 to 3 years. These products also have a stream of expansion plans lined up. “We try to make transformation of biomass and this transformation can be chemical, physical, biological or agricultural. Our focus is on expansion of the existing business and introduction of new product lines,” said Somaiya.
The company has a current turnover of over Rs 1,365 crores where over 35 percent of turnover comes from export. These are numbers that quantify a business.
However, it is not the number that is generated in business but the number of lives that are touched that matters more. And the number of lives that Godavari continues to touch is an endless journey.
THE AUTHOR: DEBARATI DAS
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Godavari Biorefineries Ltd. inaugurated new Research and Development (R&D) Centre at Navi MumbaiFeb 01, 2017
Godavari Biorefineries Limited (GBL) inaugurated new R&D laboratory at TTC Industrial state Mahape, Navi Mumbai. The new state-of-the-art facility center is in line with GBL’s strategy to focus on research and innovation to address the significant and growing demand for chemical products made from renewable feedstock.
This new facility covers area of 7500 sq. feet & will house 30 employees working on various research areas such as chemistry, biotechnology, microbiology and molecular biology. Padma Vibhushan Prof. M.M.Sharma ex-Director of ICT, Mumbai inaugurated the research center and provided insights of the chemical industry in India in his inaugural speech.
Mr. Samir Somaiya, Chairman & Managing Director marked the inauguration of the new lab as dream come true moment.
About Godavari Biorefineries Limited
Godavari Biorefineries Ltd is a leading biorefining company that produces sugar, other foods, biofuels, chemicals, power, compost, waxes, and related products, using sugarcane as the primary feedstock. Our aim is to engage in research and innovate by continuously making new products and entering new markets in order to derive the maximum value from our feedstock. Our research areas include sustainable farming, transformation of biomass (chemical, mechanical and biological), product development, and process optimization. Founded in 1939, we have been pioneers in the growing, processing, and utilization of biomass to make a wide variety of products.
We are now working on the next generation bagasse-based biorefinery and also the biotransformation of sugar to biopolymers.
Ahead of what's nextMumbai, Progressive Grocer | Feb 17, 2016
Samir Somaiya, CMD, Godavari Biorefineries, which has entered the branded foods category by introducing the ‘Jivana’ brand for its sugar, salt and turmeric products, speaks to Progressive Grocer about the growth prospects of his products and its plans to expand the reach across markets and consumer segments
Tell us about your foray into the food industry. How did a maker of biofuels and specialty chemicals come into the food business?
Our roots have always been in agriculture. We started in 1939 as a company that processed sugarcane to make sugar. Over time, we also took up the manufacture of ethanol, biofuels, renewable power and chemicals to our product mix. But even now, sugar and agriculture are an important part of our business. We have also been in the business of making salt for many decades now. Recently, we decided to enter the branded foods category by introducing our ‘Jivana’ brand. Our sugar, salt and now turmeric products will be sold under this banner to consumers.
You started with salt and sugar and now into turmeric. Are there any special and particular reasons for getting into these categories?
Sugar and salt have been our ‘bread and butter’ for many decades now. And our products have always been acknowledged in the wholesale market as having good quality. We thought the branding of the same would be a natural extension of our offering. We have always promoted the growing of turmeric among our farmers as a rotation crop and, in some cases, as an inter-crop. In our country, farmers have smaller land holdings, and it is important for them to be able to get good value from their land. Th is crop combination would add value to the farmer’s income. As the programme grew, we naturally thought of buying the turmeric, processing it, and offering high quality turmeric to our ‘Jivana’ consumers. Turmeric is also among the most commonly used spice in most Indian kitchens because of its medicinal properties, which dates back to the ancient Vedic culture of India.
What is special about your products in these categories that sets you apart from your competitors?
We look at our foray into food products in two ways – creating access for farmers and food producers to the retail markets and providing individual consumers with food, which has been grown through sustainable means and is of good quality. This is very important to us. In all the areas that we work in, we maintain a close relationship with our farmers, and work to advance their social and financial sustainability. Our processing is also done in very good facilities, so that the product is hygienically packed, and is pure.
What is it that makes Jivana more appealing to consumers?
Jivana products appeal to the customers as they are of good quality, come in attractive packaging and at a competitive price. These factors ensure consumer trials and repeat purchase for Jivana products.
Which consumer segments and demographics are your products targeted at?
Our target group is decision makers for grocery purchases in Indian homes. In 98% of households, this target group comprises women. We started with branded sugar and salt, and have recently launched turmeric. Since these are the most basic food items in every kitchen, the opportunity for growth is limitless. We aim to be the favoured brand of foods in most if not all Indian kitchens. In recent times, SEC A, B & C homes are seeing an active shift from loose to packaged/branded products and this segment is going to grow exponentially. We are targeting this consumer household. Placements have been done in stores catering to these kinds of homes in metros, mini-metros and class I towns across a few states.
What is the retail presence of your brand in these product categories?
Jivana is present in general & kirana stores across the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Karnataka across metros and mini metros and a few class I towns.
What is the consumption pattern, growth rate and market size for your product categories?
Jivana sugar was launched in January 2015, followed by Jivana salt in April 2015. We have seen very encouraging response for a new brand. We have recently been nominated as one of the fastest growing brands of 2015. Turmeric was launched in January 2016.
Sugar sells the most as consumption is the highest. The branded sugar space has few large players and a very large loose sugar market open for capturing. Salt, though a challenging product due to very low costs/margins, is also an amazing product category. Jivana salt has seen good growth as it competes well on price with the market leader TATA and several regional brands across the target cities. An increase in sales will make it more cost effective.
How do you see the demand for these products in the future?
Branded retail foods/ staples is a sector that is going to grow leaps and bounds in the coming years. Consumers are choosing better & safer food options for their homes. Th is translates to choosing packaged/ branded foods over loose. Like water, atta, oil, etc., most commodities will switch to being branded in the next few years. We expect good growth for Jivana sugar and salt, and are also confident about expanding into the spices category.
How do you see the growth trends for your products in urban versus rural areas?
We are a new brand. The major markets to start with for any new brand would be ones that can bring in the volumes. We have started with metros, mini metros and class I towns and have seen good growth there. Our smaller SKUs are seeing good response in smaller towns too. Our plan is to have a systematic growth plan for both urban and rural areas.
What are your plans for strengthening the market share and consumer reach of your products?
Our promise is “purity in foods”. The aim is to provide good quality foods for Indian homes and that will remain our primary focus. Jivana Foods would be synonyms with purity, quality and consistency at all times. To strengthen market share and reach, aggressive placements are the first step followed by a clever marketing plan, as also relationship building with our channel partners and retailers. All these together will ensure our sustained growth.
Which are important factors for the retail pick up of products?
Good quality of products, aggressive placements, right price and effective promotions/ retail schemes will ensure that Jivana is purchased repeatedly.
What is your strategy for retail outreach?
Jivana comes from The Somaiya Group, a company known for its honesty, strong values and a will to uplift the community. Our strategy is simple – to make and retail foods that we want our country to eat and flourish with. Basic foods like sugar, salt and spices are bought from the neighbouring grocer so it is very important to be present there. The sheer number of retail/ kirana outlets bring in the volumes and reach. Visibility in modern retail is also important, so being present in the Big Bazaars, D-Marts and Reliance stores, etc., is also imperative. We believe that good quality products are the first stepping stone to building sales, followed by aggressive placements, good promotions for the retailers as well as consumers.
As a young brand, what do you think will be the challenges in distribution?
Price sensitive commodity brands, despite having a good distribution, can be quickly replaced by competitive brands. Th e challenge in distribution is to be present on the retail shelf each time. Distribution is cost intensive and there is high attrition in sales, which can be minimised by creating volumes and a good incentive structure.
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Teaching 'Agriculture And Renewable Resources' At Cornell UniversityCHEMICAL NEWS | Dec 08, 2015
In 2007, I was invited by Professor Paulette Clancy, the then Director of the School of Chemical Engineering to teach a one credit course on Agriculture and Renewable Resources. This would be spread over one month, and would be classified as a Master's level course in the School of Chemical Engineering. Professor Lynden Archer, the present Director also continues the invitation.
American Universities, and Cornell among them, have a lot of flexibility in introducing new courses and to invite faculty to enrich their curriculum, and to give their students a wider perspective on their own field, and the world around them. The course is also open to the entire University, as well as to younger students (3rd year Engineering students onwards). In the past few times that I have taught this course, I have had students from third year engineering to faculty come take this course, and I have had students from Chemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Business Management, City and Regional Planning take this course.
When I accepted the invitation, I thought that teaching would be easy, and that like other faculty, I would come in, say my piece, and that was that. Now, after having accepted the invitation, I was asked to submit my `lesson plan', meaning, what would I teach in each lecture, and what the readings for each lecture would be, so that students would come to each class ready for the discussion to be had. In every class, I have changed the readings, since the world changes so dramatically, so even thought the course skeleton remains the same, the context, the readings, the world has changed.
I thought deeply, about what I would teach, and in which manner. I also thought, that I would keep the course technical, but given that there was already too much science that the students would be learning in their other class work, and that I may have students from other fields, I should keep the technical details simple. I also thought, that I will explain using sugarcane as a feedstock (what I know very well), but the lessons that I would teach, would be applicable to any other feedstocks.
I started by explaining, that there is always a context in which an economy operates. That is defined by the geography, climate, people, demography, and Government policy. For example, if the Government of India creates a ethanol blending programme, that is a policy that creates a market. Similarly, if Brazil has created a minimum blend of 20% of ethanol in its gasoline, and also made a fuel policy so ethanol can be sold as a fuel or in varying blends, this is also a Government policy that creates a market. I also spoke in the past of the EU sugar export subsidy programme, that had the result of distorting international markets of sugar. These policies, in the context of a country's larger demography, create opportunity in which a chemical engineer, an entrepreneur, can innovate. About 10 years ago, there was not much of an ethanol programme from corn in the USA. But with the announcement of a Renewable Fuel Standard, the ethanol programme in the USA became one of the largest in the world. I would give students readings, of such policies so that they understand this.
I would then explain processing of agriculture as distinct from the use of fossil resources. These are fundamentally different. If the earth is well taken care of, then it has the power to continue to give us resources equal or more to the year before. As I mentioned, this is different from fossil resources, which will always be less going forward, and depleting. That is the key difference between renewable, and depleting resources. And that is also explained. Fossil resources focus on discovery and extraction, whereas renewable resources focus of regeneration and extraction.
I would use sugarcane as a case study, and explain how this is used to make sugar. I would explain the technology, and the mass and energy balances around the mill. In subsequent lectures, like peeling an onion, I would show different facets of the feedstock. For example, I would explain fermentation of molasses (or sugarcane juice) to make ethanol, and the economics of the same as complements, or substitutes, and why one would choose what product mix, and once again, why Government Ipolicy and the local demand supply makes the difference. I would explain the debate between food (sugar) and energy (biofuels). Debate on whether use of agricultural resources are taking away from food would also be discussed in the overall context of the population, and what contributes to their broader welfare.
In a subsequent lecture, I would explain how the bagasse can be used to create surplus power, by burning the same in high pressure turbines, and how Government policies enabling the purchase of power spurred that investment. This discussion would also then lead to discussions on global warming, carbon credits, and why projects such as the cogeneration of power in a cane sugar mill are greenhouse gas mitigating projects. Each of these lectures has detailed discussion in how the mass and energy balance change, with the introduction of a new facet (molasses fermentation, high pressure cogeneration of power) and its consequent effect on economics, and the creation of value.
I then place thin the the context of social development, and the productivity on the farm. Agricultural resources are grown, and true stewardship would need the intersection of biology, agronomy, sociology, alongside chemical engineering. Using papers of C K Prahalad and Stuart Hart on 'Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid' I would engage the class in a discussion on how resources are plentiful, and we would need to create this bio-economy, one that creates value and contributes to the overall development of the economy, with due emphasis on the triple bottom line.
Finally, I would explain the amazing world of the future, of bioplastics, of cellulose based bio- refining, of synthetic biology, of green solvents and green plasticisers. I would challenge the students to think of some context, with some agriculture based feedstocks, to be processed into some product that would be converted into a product that world needs, while simultaneously contributing to the development of the people. This project, done in teams, is the basis of the grade (along with student participation in class). Over the years, I have always had, in each class one of two fantastic project reports, on the lines that are described above, processing diverse feedstocks.
For me, teaching is very rewarding. I got three degrees at Cornell, and spent over 6 years there. Teaching at Cornell gives me a sense of giving back to the University who gave me so much. It also gives me a sense that I never left. I still climb the same staircases that I did as an undergraduate. Teaching at Cornell also gives me a unique insight on how one of the best Universities in the world functions from the 'inside'. Since I actively manage Somaiya Vidyavihar, this insight is very beneficial in how we seek to build Somaiya Vidyavihar and Somaiya Ayurvihar into world class centres of learning, research and service. Finally, my business is Bio-refining. Godavari Biorefineries is at the forefront of using agricultural feedstocks to make foods, fuels, chemicals, pharmaceutical intermediates, waxes, electricity, and a host of other products. Taking a `sabbatical' like this gives me time to reflect, study, and learn on how the world around us in changing, and what we must do to keep up, if not stay ahead.
THE AUTHOR: SAMIR SOMAIYA is the Chairman and Managing Director - Godavari Biorefineries Limited (http://somaiya.com/). He is also the President - Somaiya Vidyavihar (http://www.somaiya.edu/). He was the past Chairman of Western Region - INDIAN CHEMICAL COUNCIL and continues as the member of the Executive Committee, ICC.
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