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Friday, Dec 27, 2002

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Corporate - Outlook

Agro Corpn on growth path

J. Nanda Gopal


THE Andhra Pradesh State Agro Industries Development Corporation Ltd (APSAIDCL), which was in the `red' for long and recommended for closure by the Subramaniam Committee, has been slowly rehabilitating itself after shedding excess flab, winding up unviable units and disposing of valuable assets which were not yielding any revenue.

Mr T. Ramakrishna, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of the corporation, told Business Line that restructuring seemed the only way to keep the corporation afloat and as part of this exercise, its agro-chemical division at Moulali, near here had been closed. Efforts were on to sell it, he added.

Fruit juice extraction and trading was another activity which proved to be loss-making, and the corporation had got rid of it. Mr Ramakrishna said it was difficult to compete with multinational corporation products which were flooding the market.

The corporation had 800 employees on its rolls. Such a large number of staff was burdensome, he said. So it offered VRS to more than half of the employees and brought down the staff strength to 350.

Even among the present number, 50 were found to be in surplus and they would be eased out soon, Mr Ramakrishna said.

The main activity of the corporation now was land development, which accounted for 80 per cent of revenues. It had 85 bulldozers and a team of agricultural engineers and with their help work was being executed.

The turnover for last year was Rs 12 crore, of which Rs 2.4 crore was profit. It was poised to register profit this year as well, he added.

The Integrated Tribal Development Agency had a tie-up with the corporation for developing wastelands identified by it under the World Bank-funded International Fund for Economic Development (IFED) for the tribals.

The developed land was to be used for agricultural purposes by the tribals.

The corporation was also involved in the manufacture and marketing of agricultural implements such as those of tillers and tractors. It had signed a MoU with the Central Tobacco Research Institute, Rajahmundry, to manufacture a banana fibre extractor developed by the latter.

Negotiations were on to manufacture pulses dehuller developed by the Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University. The dehuller was especially used for red and green gram.

On its own, the corporation had developed paddy cleaners and turmeric polishers. It had agricultural service centres in each district and was custom-hiring the bulldozers to keep them operational.

It took up distribution of reputed companies' tractors and power tillers, which had a subsidy component in them.

Mr Ramakrishna said the corporation was executing contract work for other government departments and whenever any such work came up, it should get the first preference.

If for any reason it was unable to take up the job, it could be assigned to others. To expand its activities, the corporation plans to acquire an excavator and depending on the demand, more could be procured.

The corporation was trying to foray into mining and for this it was negotiating with Singareni Collieries.

If this deal came off, it would make a positive difference in its fortunes, he said.

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