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Lawrencedale to raise Rs 50 crore for expansion; eyes Rs 60 cr turnover
Wednesday, 05 August, 2015, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Pushkar Oak, Mumbai
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Lawrencedale Agroprocessing India Pvt. Ltd (LEAF), which is a known name in the southern states of the country for supply of fresh and hygienic fruits and vegetables, is planning to expand this year by raising Rs 50 crore from private equity funds.

As part of the expansion plans, the Ooty-based firm aspires to tap pan-India market, beginning with Maharashtra, followed by north India and other parts of the country. In Maharashtra, the work on the new unit is in final stages and the company is engaging with the farming community in that geography and the farmer support centre along with post harvest management system should be in place in few months.

Palat Vijayaraghavan, chief executive officer, LEAF, explains, “The new setup at Narayangaon, Maharashtra, will establish a link to the state of Maharashtra and add up to the total productivity. We are planning to set up the new food processing division by Q4 end of the year with a 20 tonne capacity setup.”

As for northern India, he adds, “We intend to also cover the northern belt of India and we are in talks with the farmers in the state of Madhya Pradesh. We want our presence across the nation but it is a steady process.”

LEAF’s extensive network of farmers who go slow on use of pesticides and adhere to safe farming techniques will be a key factor, which will help the company in its expansion plans. Vijayaraghavan informs,  “We work with close to 3,000 farmers across various regions of south India and we predominantly work with small landhold farmers who use best practices in using less harsh pesticides and who are interested in regenerative farming. We encourage farmers to adopt bio-pesticides and work with them to enrich the nutrients of the soil so that the soil sustains farming for generations and not be destroyed by excessive use of chemicals.”

He adds, “We extend support to the farmers from whom we procure the fresh produce for processing by providing them with advice from our expert committee over rotational farming and help them in technological support if required.”  

According to Vijayaraghavan, to begin with, LEAF ensures that the farmers procure good seeds that produce best and fresh produce. Post-harvest, the produce is collected at the farm gate, and then taken to the processing centres in reefer vans, which help in maintaining freshness and preventing contamination. The company has established post harvest management systems across various locations in south India and the centres for processing are close to the areas where the cultivation happens.

At the centres, the produce is comprehensively cleaned, graded and packed to maintain freshness and reduce contaminants. The produce is then shipped to distribution centres across south India and dispatched to retail stores within least possible time to maintain freshness.

Vijayaraghvan states, “Lawrencedale has a highly experienced farmer support division which engages with the farming community through the entire life cycle of the harvest. Right from testing of soil and advising what is a good crop to seed, we encourage farmers with right quality of seeds and the best possible way to get a good quality yield. Our activities do not end just at the advise but also establish the best possible forward market linkage for the farmers who are adopting these innovative techniques.”

The produce is of two types, namely, roots and stems. The ones with roots are the seasonal ones and the ones with stems are cultivated throughout the year. The company processes cleans-grades-packs almost all roots, stems and leafy vegetables besides fruits. It has a wide range of Stock Keeping Units (SKUs). The land and the soil of the Nilgiri favours the cultivation.

While the corporate office of the company is located in Ooty (Nilgiris district), Tamil Nadu, three processing & packaging plants are located at Jedayampalayam (near Coimbatore), Thudiyalur (in Coimbatore) and in Bangalore. The flagship plant in Jedayampalayam has a capacity to process 100 tonne of fresh produce on a daily basis. Currently, the company handles close to 30 tonne of fresh produce on a daily basis and it intends to cross the 50 tonne mark during FY 2015-16. The turnover of the company is Rs 30 crore, it plans to increase its capacity, which will take the turnover to Rs 60 crore.
 
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