Enfield Agrobase: Corporate, Multiproduct Organic Agriculture Venture In The South

Chennai, March 28 | Updated: Mar 29 2004, 05:30am hrs
Organic agriculture is in a nascent stage in Tamil Nadu. There are a few single-product producers and exporters in select pockets in the state. However, the Chennai-based Enfield Agrobase Ltd is said to be the only certified corporate organic farm enterprise in the state.

The company has organic certification from an international agency, Institute Fur Marktokologie (IMO), Switzerland, since 1994 for its farm lands and products. The 200-acre certified farms, at Kanganankulam and Singampattu in Tirunelveli district, are developed with the technical knowhow from Holland. The company operates in close association with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

Plans are under way to acquire another 600 acres in the area to develop Enfield into the leading organic food and food products producer in the country and be a known player in the global market, N Balasubramanian, president, told FE.

The Enfield farms grow cashew, mango, banana, sugarcane, rice, sesame, spices and herbs. The principal crops, in the existing farm, are mango, cashew and coconuts. They have started to give good yield. The company is expected to break even this year and make profit from next year, he added.

Now, the production is at around 45-50 tonne of raw cashew, 50-60 tonne of mango and one lakh coconuts. By 2007, cashew output is to go up to 120 tonne, mango to 250 tonne and coconuts to three lakh.

In another 10 years, the new farms would start yielding and we expect three-fold increase in output. with 800 acres of certified farms we would be the leaders in organic agriculture in the country. Our leadership will not only be in acreage but in farm management skills, knowledge of certification process, produce processing and retailing and exports, Mr Subramanian said.

The company is planning to concentrate in a special way on the domestic market. Our plans are to export 30 per cent of our produces and sell the rest locally, he added.

Enfield has already established its unique farm management systems with absolute backward and forward integration of farm operations. The dairy farm provides the necessary organic manure, both solid and liquid, for the farm. Sugarcane is converted to jaggery, cashew is processed and packed to global standards, coconut oil is extracted through cold pressing thereby retaining its natural flavour and aroma, milk is converted into products, bananas are dehydrated and from this year Enfield is also producing fruit pulp.

Enfield has tied up with retailers and organic food processors in the US and Europe. It has a company showroom in Chennai and has retail outlets in Pondicherry, Kodaikkanal, Chandigarh and Delhi.

Mr Subramanian said that Himachal Pradesh, Uttranchal and Madhya Pradesh governments were supporting and promoting organic cultivation marketing of fruits and foodgrains (in MP). Karanataka and Maharashtra also have taken some positive steps. Other state governments are yet to realise the immense potential of organic agriculture for employment generation and rural development. He suggests that there should be special fiscal and capital packages to create a level playing field for the Indian organic farmers with the global players.

The Agriculture Produce Export Development Agency (APEDA) has been facilitating organic produce exports and organising seminars and workshops to take the message of organic farming to a wide spectrum of foreign buyers, Indian farmers and consumers.