Karuturi denies plan to share land with Indian farmers

Karuturi spokesman Birinder Singh
Addis Fortune | 31 October 2011

Karuturi denies plan to share land with Indian farmers

Karuturi Agro Products Plc had refuted reports that the company subleased farm land to Indian farmers, claiming instead that the Indian farmers were hired solely for consultancy services.

Karuturi had leased 300,000ht of farmland from the Ethiopian government in Bako, western Gambella region, 251 km southwest of Addis, for a period of 50 years in 2009. The company currently operates on 100,000ht from the land it had leased.

During the week of October 22, 2011, reports had surfaced in several publications claiming that Karuturi had agreed to share 20,000ht of its farmland on a 35 pc revenue sharing basis with Indian farmers, citing a senior official at the company as a source.

The terms of the lease do not allow the company to transfer the lease to another company or individual until 75 pc of the land has been developed, according to a press release by Karuturi.

“Indian farmers are giving consultancy on specialty crops like cotton,” Birinder Singh, executive director at the company told Fortune. “Invitation for consultancy was not just extended to Indian farmers but also to other nationals including Ethiopian entrepreneurs in the agriculture field.”

This is a global endeavour, contends Singh.

The consultancies are for the management and construction of workshops, warehouses, fuel stations and post-harvest mechanisms, as well as supplying agricultural inputs including seeds, fertilizers,  pesticides and chemicals, the company claims.  

The company lost 15 million dollars worth of maize planted on 12,000ht due to floods three weeks ago.

The land, near the Baro and Alwero rivers, is a flood plain.

Farming on such plots has its own benefits and risks.

“It is a plot with water availability and virgin soil,” he told Fortune. “But it is also prone to floods.”

The company had contracted Water & Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS), an Indian public sector enterprise with autonomy to enter joint ventures and subsidiaries, to provide consulting services in flood control and the design of irrigation and drainage systems. It plans to build a dike around the farm.

“Water can be tamed and flooding is better than famine,” Singh told Fortune.


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