The Dubai headquartered Phoenix Group, a global agricultural and food company, plans to set up a rice mill with an investment of $50 million (₹325 crore) to process 250,000 of non-basmati rice per annum at Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh.
The $2-billion agriculture-focussed company has also sounded out banks to procure stressed asset in food processing and rice mills. The company has raised $205 million (about ₹1,300 crore) through a consortium of seven banks led by Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore. The company plans to invest the remaining amount to boost its rice business in Mozambique, Benin and Ivory Coast as destinations, and India as origin.
Supported by OFID (the OPEC Fund for International Development), the loan facility was over-subscribed with participation of BNP Paribas, RaboBank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, ICICI Bank and Shinhan Bank.
Rice export In India, the company logged in turnover of ₹1,500 crore through export of rice from India and import of pluses from Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and Australia.
Gaurav Dhawan, Chairman, Phoenix Group, told BusinessLine that the company has already identified the land required for setting up the rice mill and is in talks with the State government for completing the formality.
“We have also identified 20-40 acres in Uttar Pradesh for cultivating tomato for the export market. Our target is to double revenue from India to ₹3,000 crore in the next four years,” he added.
Despite frequent changes in government policies, Dhawan is confident of sustaining growth in agriculture business in India by focusing on value added products and steering away from baseline commodities that have an impact on inflation.
Though the government has set out its vision to double Indian farmers’ income, he said there has been no constructive policy measures to achieve it. All the government policies are focused on food security and cost management by providing fertiliser at subsidised rate and giving minimum support price to farmers rather than targeting the export market with quality produce, said Dhawan.
If the Government provides the basic road, the private sector will invest in agriculture infrastructure such as putting up processing facility and cold storage to increase farmers’ income, besides sharing the knowledge on crops selection.
In Ukraine, Phoenix is all set to grow garlic on 1,000 hectares to challenge the dominance of China, which is fast losing market share due to contamination issues, he added.