Fertiliser major IFFCO today said it has signed an agreement with Sikkim government to explore business opportunities in organic food market with an initial investment of Rs 200 crore. The foray into the organic food market and food processing is a part of the co-operative IFFCO’s strategy to diversify its business. Apart from fertiliser, IFFCO is into general insurance, agro-chemicals, rural telecom, rural retail and farm forestry.
Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) announced signing of memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Sikkim government. “Basis the MoU, a joint venture – ‘Sikkim IFFCO Organics Ltd’ (Sikkim-IFFCO) will be established to explore business opportunities in organic value chain,” IFFCO said in a statement.
IFFCO will hold majority stake of 51 per cent equity in the JV while the Sikkim government will hold 49 per cent. “The initial investment for the project will be around Rs 200 crore, which will be increased to Rs 500 crore in phases,” the co-operative said. IFFCO also announced acquisition of 50 per cent stake in Aquagri Processing Pvt Ltd, which is into seaweed cultivation and processing, for Rs 11 crore through its wholly-owned subsidiary IFFCO eBazar Ltd.
“We always focus on better quality products and value addition for the farmers produce and of course better competitive prices for the consumers. We want to focus on bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides along with organic product range,” IFFCO’s MD U S Awasthi said.
Aquagri has the potential of creating employment opportunities in agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing.
‘SAGARIKA’, a key brand developed jointly by IFFCO and Aquagri, was recently launched and it is an organic bio- stimulant derived from red and brown seaweeds, which enhances crop productivity and provides resistance against stress. It is available in both liquid and granular variants.
Aquagri’s research is focused on developing organic product portfolio by leveraging humic substances, bio-actives and other alternate sources of nutrition. It has done work in the area of bio-pesticides, particularly in neem and its derivatives. IFFCO will leverage the knowledge of Aquagri in the area of food processing sector to explore the potential of potato processing and creating value added products using crop waste streams like corncob and stock.
The co-operative will soon be introducing a range of organic and non-chemical based products for crop nutrition as well as protection.These products will leverage seaweeds, fresh waterweeds, bio-actives using bio-refinery approach to create multiple products by use of the same biomass.
“Industrial level mass production and packaging of this product range will be undertaken by Sikkim-IFFCO in Sikkim and this facility will cater to the organic input requirements of the entire north eastern region,” the statement said. IFFCO said it would explore sourcing of organic produce including flowers and herbs from the region and will make them available to various companies across the country. To make these products available to the north eastern farmers, the co-operative will open at least two IFFCO e-Bazar centres in each of the seven-sister states.