Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Agriculture retail is going to be our next focus area

Bharti group eyes farm produce retail with $2.5 b investment2009

Agriculture and retailing of farm-based products will be the next focus areas for the diversified Bharti group with a war chest of $25 billion. The group reached a major milestone last week with a telecom subscriber base of 100 million.

The group's founders, the Mittal brothers, whose Bharti Enterprises has a tie-up with global retail giant Wal-Mart in the wholesale business, is quite upbeat on the farm sector, hoping for a pan-India presence, as also exports, over the next few years

Agriculture retail is going to be our next focus area for expansion,' Mittal, who is also the group's director for wholesale and retail business, told IANS in an interview 'We have begun with fruits and vegetables. Now we will look at other areas in a big way.'

Mittal said the main reason for the group's focus on the farm sector was that demand for consumer products has continued to swell in India 'There is no slowdown for consumer goods.

There is a huge potential for growth for agro-based products in India I feel it will be a profitable venture. We are working on a new model for this business. We will unveil it soon.

The group had set up in 2004 a joint venture company by the name of Bharti Del Monte India with the aim of linking Indian fields to the world and making the country a global food basket

Operating with the brand name 'FieldFresh', it has acquired some 300 acres of land in Punjab to serve as the hub for research and development and hopes to employ some 100,000 people directly or indirectly

Maintaining that India requires a 'second green revolution', Mittal said: 'Promoting agro-retail can generate employment and fresh opportunities for farmers This sector badly needs foreign investment.'

He also stressed on the imperativeness of a cold storage revolution, as an estimated 40 percent of the country's produce goes waste

A large part of agricultural produce is spoilt before reaching the cold storage. Foreign funds will boost the whole supply chain initiative and the logistics.'

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