French global agri-trading firm Louis Dreyfus Company’s Indian unit is taking up a project to improve the productivity of wheat and corn in some parts of the country.

According to Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) India CEO Sumeet Mittal, Banswara in Rajasthan has been targeted for the project. “The idea will be to replace traditional seed varieties with one the local agricultural university is promoting.  The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is establishing good quality plots for improved cultivation,” he told businessline in an online interaction. 

Sumeet Mittal, CEO, Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) India

Sumeet Mittal, CEO, Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) India

LDC India is doing extensive training with farmers on various aspects and ensuring timely availability of fertilizers and other plant protection measures. 

The Indian unit of the French firm, a leading merchant and processor of agri commodities and goods, is doing a regenerative agri project in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district for cotton. “We are working with more than 4,000 farmers or households and the total area is about 7,000-plus hectares,” the LDC India CEO said.

Sustainable coffee project

The company, founded about 170 years ago and active in over 100 countries, will help farmers take up drip irrigation in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture. Besides, on-field demonstrations will be held and it will supply critical inputs such as vermicomposting units, he said.

LDC India, which has been functioning since the 1950s, has launched a sustainability programme in coffee. It started a responsible sourcing programme to certify and verify over 300 farmers, who produce 4,000 tonnes of coffee. The programme is based on ethics and sustainability standards the company implements for coffee supplies globally, Mittal said. “We’re supporting over 1,500 farmers in coffee to improve their soil fertility. At the group level in coffee, we are working with Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade. By 2027, we will purchase 32,000 tonnes of responsibly sourced coffee. Most of our projects are carried under corporate social responsibility programmes,” he said, adding that the company is looking to extend its reach further with farmers next year.

Empowering women

LDC India also executes various projects through Louis Dreyfus Foundation among which is a project to empower women in Rajasthan. “We embarked on the project in 2020 with the Louis Dreyfus Foundation joining hands with the Centre for Microfinance in Rajasthan’s Tonk district. This is to enhance food security and cash incomes for women and smallholder farmers,” the company’s CEO said. 

In this programme, several self-help groups of 10-20 women promoted by the state government are being supported to enhance incomes from agriculture and allied livelihoods. They receive training on sustainable agricultural practices with focus on low-cost natural farming, improved livestock management and financial literacy said Mittal. 

In view of the two-year project’s success, it has been extended by three more years to empower 6,000 women farmers across 100 villages in the region. About 450 farmer groups will be set up and they will be trained in financial literacy as well. 

LDC, which moves 80 million tonnes of commodities every year across the globe, is committed to working with farmers to promote sustainability in a transparent and fair ecosystem. This will be done working with its suppliers, various farmer groups and farmers to ensure that they receive a fair and remunerative price for their products. “We are working with our consumers and partners in the food, feed and textile space to ensure better quality of products, transport in the most cost efficient, reliable and sustainable manner,” he said.