IFFCO signed a MoU with Government of Sikkim on Monday with an aim to explore business opportunities in organic value chain. In the new company named “SIKKIM-IFFCO”, IFFCO will hold majority stake of 51% equity and the Govt of Sikkim will hold 49%.
Earlier in April this year, IFFCO MD Dr US Awasthi had during his Farmers’ Connect Campaign in Gangtok said “IFFCO is set to enter the world of organic fertilizer in a big way by resolving to form a new joint venture with the Government of Sikkim”. It was fulfillment of the promise he made to the state, said sources from IFFCO.
Interacting with assembled farmers and cooperators in Gangtok last April on the occasion of Golden Jubilee Awasthi had said, “We have always promoted the balanced use of fertilizers. Sikkim is a fully organic state so it’s a good platform for organic fertilizers and plant growth promoters.”
Coming to the formal launching of the project “SIKKIM-IFFCO” the press release reads that the initial investment will be around Rs 200 crore, which will be increased to Rs 500 crore in phases.
IFFCO also announced acquisition of 50% shareholding in Aquagri Processing Private Ltd., who are the pioneers in seaweed cultivation and processing in India, for Rs 11 crore through its wholly owned subsidiary IFFCO eBazar Ltd.
“Seaweed cultivation and utilization is a priority focus area and an integral part of the vision of Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. On the same lines, Aquagri has the potential of creating employment opportunities in agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing”, read a press release from the cooperative major.
“SAGARIKA”, a key brand developed jointly by IFFCO & Aquagri, was formally launched on Technology Day by Harsh Verdhan, Union Minister of Science & Technology. Sagarika is an organic bio-stimulant derived from red and brown seaweeds, which enhances crop productivity and provides resistance against stress. It is available in both liquid and granular variants. The initial response of the farmers for these products is very positive and encouraging.
The Ministry of Science and Technology has recognized Aquagri’s Research & Development Centre. It’s research agenda is focused on developing organic product portfolio by leveraging humic substances, bio-actives and other alternate sources of nutrition. They have also done considerable work in the area of bio-pesticides, particularly in neem and its derivatives.
Aquagri from the seaweeds biomass also produces hydrocolloids for the food industry, which so far has been fully dependent on imports. It’s knowledge in the area of food processing sector will also be leveraged to explore the potential of potato processing and creating value added products using crop waste streams like corncob and stock.
IFFCO would soon be introducing a range of organic and non-chemical based products for crop nutrition as well as protection while targeting both the farmers as well as the enthusiastic home garden segment. These products will leverage seaweeds, fresh waterweeds, bio actives using bio-refinery approach to create multiple products by use of the same biomass.
Industrial level mass production & packaging of this product range will be undertaken by Sikkim-IFFCO in Sikkim and this facility will cater to the organic input requirements of the entire north eastern region, which as per the stated intention of the government, is going to be the mega organic agricultural zone. IFFCO will also explore sourcing of organic produce including flowers & herbs from the region and will market them to various companies across states.
To make these products available to the north eastern farmers, IFFCO will also be opening at least two IFFCO e-Bazar centers in each of the seven-sister states.
On the developments, Dr. U.S. Awasthi, Managing Director, IFFCO said “We always focus on better quality products & value addition for the farmers produce and off course better competitive prices for the consumers. We want to focus on Bio-Fertilizers & Bio-Pesticides along with organic product range.”
Dr. Awasthi further added “Noble ventures and good ideas, which don’t result in profitable enterprises, are quickly forgotten, as they are not sustainable. We are looking forward to exploring the organic opportunities across the country.”
IFFCO plans to sell around 20 Lakh Liters of Sagarika Liquid and 20,000MT of Sagarika granules in 2018-19.”