Our Bureau

Chennai, May 18

KRBL Ltd, a leading exporter of basmati rice, plans to expand its non-basmati exports with a variety from the South and invest in information technology to enhance its interaction with farmers.

In an informal chat with presspersons following the launch of a branded basmati rice, India Gate Classic, here on Wednesday, Mr Anil K. Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director, KRBL, said that `Sorna Masuri,' cultivated in the southern States, also known as `Ponni' in Tamil Nadu, is in demand abroad.

The export of this variety is set to grow in the coming years because of demand from South Indians living abroad, according to Mr Mittal.

`Sorna Masuri' is grown in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and in Tamil Nadu. The company, which has exported a container or two of this variety, plans to step up exports early next year. It would source this variety from Andhra Pradesh.

According to Mr Mittal, within the next three years exports of `Sorna Masuri' could cross 40,000 tonnes. KRBL hopes to exploit this growing segment, which it expects would increasingly contribute to its turnover from non-basmati varieties.

For now it is concentrating on its acquisition of an 8,00,000-tonne mill in Dhuri, Punjab, which will commence processing paddy in the coming season.

The company has invested over Rs 70 crore to upgrade and modernise the mill, which has a capacity to handle about 10 per cent of Punjab's production of rice.

Dovetailed with the added capacity is a plan to expand its area under contract farming to about 2,00,000 acres in the next three years compared to about 87,000 acres now. The company is looking at major investments in information technology possibly along the lines of the e-business networks and Internet kiosks attempted by other companies in sugar and tobacco, Mr Mittal said.

While the details of the project are to be finalised, the company has a Rs 12 crore corpus set aside from rice exports to fund its social responsibility projects, he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 19, 2005)
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