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LEAF raises Series-B equity capital from Denmark’s Bestseller Foundation
Tuesday, 27 September, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
Lawrencedale Agro Processing India Pvt Ltd (LEAF), India’s premier fresh produce supply chain major, raised Series-B equity capital from Bestseller Foundation, a Denmark-based global foundation, and Unitus Impact, a United States-based venture capital fund. The financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.  

Kristian Sloth Petersen, managing director, Bestseller Foundation, said, “We are delighted to partner with LEAF, which is making a significant positive impact in the lives of fresh produce farmers in India.”

“More than 80 per cent of the farmers in India hold less than two hectares of land. Given the fact that LEAF works extensively with them for livelihood improvement, the investment fits perfectly with our philosophy of working to improve sustainable agriculture value chains,” he added.

With this fresh round of equity investment, LEAF will channel funds to expand its footprint deeper across South India and engage within a significant larger number of horticulture belts.

By extensively reengineering the fresh produce value chain, LEAF developed a high-quality fresh produce brand in India, empowering farmers, retailers and consumers.

Geoffrey (Chester) Woolley, chief executive officer, Unitus Impact, said, “Our core focus is on investing in scalable companies that improve the livelihoods of the working poor by addressing market inefficiencies and optimising supply chains.”

“LEAF is working extensively to engage with small farmers to improve their efficiency and price realisation for small land-hold farmers. We look forward to partnering with LEAF, as it scales and expands the scope of its operations,” he added.

“We have been working on how we can bring predictability to the lives of farmers with sustainable practices. We walk with small land-hold farmers in the entire life cycle of the harvest and also bring in beneficial forward market-linkages through our brand LEAF,” said Palat Vijayaraghavan, founder and chief executive officer, Lawrencedale Agro Processing.

“It is an honour that Bestseller Foundation and Unitus Impact have chosen to partner us in this journey,” he added.

In 2013, LEAF raised its Series-A funding from the Aspada Investment Company, backed by the Soros Economic Development Fund, which is one of the pioneers of early-stage agriculture investments in India.

“LEAF has grown admirably over the past three years and has not only created a significant impact in the lives of small land-hold farmers in India, but has also built a strong fresh-produce brand,” said Kushal Agrawal, chief financial officer, Aspada Investment Advisors.

“The establishment of end-to-end value chains within fresh produce significantly reduces wastage and does away with inefficiencies caused by numerous intermediaries. Bestseller Foundation and Unitus Impact will be great partners for us in building LEAF further,” he added.

Headquartered in Ooty, The Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, LEAF works extensively with more than 3,000 farmers across South India and is envisaging increasing its scope of operations to engage with more than 10,000 farmers over the next few years.

LEAF, on an average, handles more than 7,000 tonnes fresh produce annually and works with more than 300 retail stores across South India, including marquee retail chains such as Spar Hypermarket, Star Bazaar, Aditya Birla More, Future Group and Godrej Nature’s Basket, among others.

With its LEAF brand of fresh produce, Lawrencedale Agro is bringing about a significant positive change in how retailers handle fresh produce providing end consumers with the promise of hygiene and high-quality fresh produce.

LEAF pioneered the use of advance processes to make fresh produce safe to consume for the consumers who are looking for various options to keep their families safe from contaminated produce.

“Our end-to-end integrated cold-store value chain, with significant investments in post-harvest management, is bringing about a noticeable impact not only on the lives of farmers, but also on end-consumers of fresh produce and retailers who are struggling to source quality fresh produce,” said Vijayaraghavan.

Led by its experience-rich agriculture technical services, LEAF works with farmers to enrich the soil, engage them on bio-alternate inputs, leading to substantial increase in the quality of the fresh produce.

“This will not only enable the farmers earn better realisation for quality fresh produce, but will also ensure that the end consumers and retailers can depend on us for being strategic partners in their fresh produce requirements,” said Vijayaraghavan.
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