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Tata to expand crop imports from Africa

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Tata may be well known for its vehicle franchise in Malawi but what many people may not know is that the company also buys agricultural commodities from Malawi which it exports to India.

However, the company has been conducting its produce business through agents.

However, Tata has now announced that it will from this year 2016 start setting up its own units in various countries in Africa, including Malawi, for direct purchasing and processing of the commodities in the countries.

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Apart from Malawi, the company also has a presence in 11 other African countries from where it buys pulses, sesame seeds, cashew nuts and coffee.

Apart from India, the company – through a stepdown subsidiary based in Tanzania, also exports the commodities to China, Myanmar and several European countries.

India’s Hindu BusinessLine newspaper of Thursday, December 31, 2015, quotes Tata Africa Holdings executive director, Ajay Mehra, as disclosing that the company intends to set up its own establishments such as collection points across the African nations to source the farm produces, and cleaning and processing units, ahead of the forthcoming harvest season.

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“This will be one of the major growth areas for us in Africa and will bring in additional revenues,” said Mehra is quoted by the newspaper.

“Initially, we were buying from aggregators…. Now, we intend to deal directly with farmers,” Mehra said.

At present, the company sources commodities such as pulses from Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique, sesame seeds from Tanzania, Nigeria and Kenya as well as cashew nuts from Tanzania and coffee from Uganda.

Mehra told the Hindi BusinessLine that the company has already exported about 5,000 tonnes of pulses in form of thur daal, green moong and chick peas and 1,000 tonnes of cashew nuts.

The company, which also has presence in Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Senegal, is also looking to expand its footprint to two more countries – Angola and Ethiopia – in the continent, according to Mehra.

The company’s experiment ‘Grow More Pulses’ – run jointly with another group company Rallis India and Selian Agricultural Research Institute of Tanzania, is aimed at expanding exports of pulses to India, which large consumers of the such crops in the world.

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