INDIA – Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) has formed a joint venture with Spanish frozen vegetables business Congelados De Navarra with US$46.7mn investment to set up a food processing facility in Ludhiana, Punjab.

This marks an entry into food processing for the fertilizer major, set to benefit from Congelados De Navarra’s individually quick frozen (IQF) technology.

As part of the partnership, IFFCO will have 30% stake while Congelados De Navarra, a processor of vegetables, fruits, herbs and ready-made pre-cooked dishes will have the remaining 70%, ET Retail reports.

“We have formed a JV with Congelados De Navarra to set up a plant in Ludhiana. We have already identified 40-acre land for this purpose,” said IFFCO’s MD US Awasthi.

“The joint venture company will invest US$445.61 million to set up a greenfield food processing unit.

The foundation stone of this plant would be laid in December and work would be completed in 18 months.”

According to him, an entry into food processing was a step towards benefiting farmers since the proposed plant will source produce like potatoes, peas and cauliflower from farmers and then process them for sale in domestic and exports market.
Apart from creating 400 direct and 5,000 indirect local jobs in Punjab, the development would contribute in the government’s goal to double farmers’ income by 2022.

“At ‪IFFCO, we‪ have always taken steps to enhance the life and income of farmers. Fertilisers, insurance, agri-chemicals, farm forestry, agri-retail, rural telecom, farmers training to now food processing,” he added.

IFFCO has 35,000 member societies in its fold, produced nearly 8 million tonnes and sold 10.3 million tonnes of fertilisers during 2017-18 and during the fiscal it posted a turnover of US$2.99bn.

Online initiatives in agriculture

In July, IFFCO partnered Singapore-based technology firm iMandi to start an e-commerce platform for farmers with an investment of about US$11.51 million.

This allows farmers to buy and sell products like fertilisers, agrochemicals and seeds on IFFCO-iMandi, an app that gives discounted prices and also avail of free delivery.

It is a ‘One Stop Shop’ for agri-inputs & produce, FMCG, electronics, loans and insurance and the joint initiative aims to reach GMV of US$5 billion by 2020, and grow its user base to 55 million farmers.

In 2017 AgroStar, an e-commerce marketplace for buying farming goods and resources raised US$10 million from Accel India to expand their services to more states.

The Indian government in 2016 launched an online trading platform for farmers, allowing them to sell their produce to wholesale agricultural markets and buyers.

The platform also received US$28.78mn investment from the government in 2015.

Other online platforms in agriculture include AGMARKNET initiative directed by the Ministry of Agriculture and e-Choupal, a platform for sourcing raw materials and selling FMCG products online.