M A I N   N E W S

Telecom giant Bharti enters agro sector
First model farm in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Not to dilute share

Bharti Group today said it will not dilute its share in the telecom arm Bharti Televentures even if the government raises the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limit in the sector.

“If the question is that we reduce our stake in Bharti after the FDI limit goes up, the answer is no,” Bharti Televentures Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal told newspersons here.

He said the company would not rush in to raise funds even if the FDI limit goes up as it has enough cash for expansion in the near future.

New Delhi, September 16
Bharti Enterprises, the parent company of telecom brand Airtel, today announced the setting up of a $ 50 million joint venture with ELRo Holdings Limited for export of fresh fruits and vegetables from India to the European Union, United Kingdom, South East Asia, Gulf and CIS countries.

The joint venture company, FieldFresh Foods Pvt Ltd, will set up a state-of-the-art agricultural research centre and a model farm in Punjab in the first phase.

The Centre will primarily carry out research on hybrid seeds and agro-farming techniques. “The research centre will work towards the identification and adoption of conventional and emerging technologies and promote on-field usage to further enhance agricultural productivity in an environmentally sustainable manner,” Chairman and Group Managing Director of Bharti Enterprises Sunil Bharti Mittal said.

During the first phase of the operations, sourcing and contract farming activities will be carried out in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Western UP and Uttaranchal.

The resulting produce, which will include fresh fruits and vegetables like apples, mangoes, kinnow, grapes, tomatoes, baby corn, okra, iceberg lettuce etc will be exported to global markets.

During the second phase, farming activities will be extended to other parts of the country.

“The direct interface is bound to create enormous benefits to the Indian farming sector by way of access to the best in agriculture technology, the latest in contract farming techniques, increased yields resulting in increased income for the farmers,” Mr Mittal said.

The first shipment is expected to hit the market within 10 to 12 months, he said.

Mr Ravi Deol, who was earlier the Managing Director of Barista Coffee Company, will be the President and CEO of FieldFresh Foods while E L Rothschild Director Lady Lynn will be the Chairman. Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal will be the lead Director and Mr Sunil Mittal will be the co-chairman of the venture.

Mr Mittal clarified the foray did not mark a movement away from Bharti’s flagship business in the telecom sector run the group company Bharti Televentures Limited.

“Our telecom network will cover the country by this fiscal-end and we have developed competence in the field. Having stabilised that business, Bharti decided to foray into agri business,” he added. — PTI


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