Investments in several new businesses over the past few years begin to fructify, says MD & CEO
Mahindra Agri Solutions (MASL), the agriculture business of Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), is eying a turnover of ₹3,000 crore in 2020 through organic growth and acquisitions after having grown 12-fold between 2010 and 2016, a top company official said.
“This year we will cross ₹1,500 crore in turnover. Our vision 2020 is to be a profitable ₹3,000 crore company,” Ashok Sharma, President, Agriculture Sector, M&M and MD & CEO, MASL said.
“We will double our size in two years as several new businesses in which we have been investing in past years will begin to fructify,” he said.
M&M’s agri-focused ventures include MASL which was hived off last year to provide focused attention to businesses in agri input and output as well as EPC, its micro-irrigation business.
“Our vision has been to work for the benefit of rural farmers. From 2010, we have been working to improve the lives of farmers by providing good quality seeds, advisory services, agrichemicals, micro irrigation and even buyback service. Our objective is to make farmers prosperous,” Mr. Sharma said.
The seeds business is now into research and development in a big way. “Last year we introduced our first hybrid corn seed and we have just introduced our first hybrid rice. This year, five more rice seeds will be introduced,” he said.
The company’s seed potato business is undertaken by Mahindra HZPC, a 60:40 JV between MASL and HZPC of Netherlands. “We have got approvals for nine new varieties of seed potato which we will introduce within the next three years.” he said. The agrichemicals business has grown five times in four years, he said, adding the focus was now on biological chemicals.New products and new varieties will be rolled out in future.
To assist farmers and to provide agri inputs, the company runs over 300 Samriddhi Centres across India where soil testing and guidance to farmers is provided free of cost. It is now linking farmers digitally through MeraKisan, a digital platform to sell fruits and vegetables directly to consumers and MyAgriGuru, a mobile app which is an advisory platform.
On the output front, the company operates the edible oil business in West Bengal, pulses in Maharashtra under the brand name NuPro, dairy business in MP and Saboro Lounge in Mumbai under Saboro (which stands for ‘taste’ in Spanish). The dairy and fruits business too operates under the Saboro brand.
Saboro Lounge, a new age concept runs one store in Mumbai and 30 such outlets are planned by next year in five cities. The dairy and fruits business are an early stage of pilot and will be scaled up in two to three years.
MASL, India’s largest grapes exporter, last year acquired Netherlands-based Origin Fruit Direct which has distribution chains in Europe and China. “With Origin Fruit Direct we [also] got sourcing access from South Africa, Chile and Peru.”
The company in 2015 set up a joint venture with Greenyard, one of the world’s largest fruits companies for marketing its premium fruits both in domestic and exports markets.
“With Greenyard we are working to get high quality fruits from overseas and how we can develop supply chain from India for exports. Now we are working export high quality banana from India,” he said. Pomegranates are to be exported shortly.
The company now plans to foray into value-added products such as curd, yogurt and lassi in its dairy business. Having seen more traction in the dairy business the company is planning to invest more money in this business. “We may look for acquisitions in that space,” he said..