In a major foray into agri-business sector in Africa, Indian corporate Embee International is in the process of acquiring 33,000 acres of land for farming in Egypt where it will invest over Rs50 billion (US$754.8 million) to grow pulses and vegetables.
The company, which is into textile business in Egypt for the last 28 years, said the land is being given to it by the Egyptian government on lease for 50 years which can be renewed thereafter.
Director of Embee International Sanjay E Khushalani said agriculture sector in Egypt has huge potential and the company hopes to get all the required permission for the “mega project” by next month.
“We are participating in the One Million Feddan land reclamation project of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. We have booked around 33,000 acres. The land is being given on lease for 50 years,” Khushalani told PTI.
He said the company has decided to invest between Rs50-65 billion (US$754.8-981million) in the project which he claimed will be largest investment by any Indian company in Egypt and the first foray by an Indian firm in the country’s agriculture sector.
The ‘One Million Feddan (acres)’ is one of the most ambitious project launched by Al Sisi after he came to power in June last year. It is aimed at reclaiming one million acres of farm land across the country that relies heavily on imports of basic foodstuffs.
Currently less than four per cent of Egypt’s total land area is arable.
Khushalani said Embee International was looking at producing pulses, sesame seeds, tomato, onions and other vegetables on the land. He said the company will sell the produce in Egypt as well as in other neighbouring countries.
“Egypt has very good soil quality. We are waiting for the green light from the government which we are expecting by the next month. We will be ready to start work on the ground in the next 6-8 months,” said Khushalani.
He said the company has identified a local partner which has more than 100 years of experience in the agricultural sector.
Khushalani said the company invested around $1.5 billion in a number of countries and makes its own cottons and silk garments. It exports silk garment to the US and Europe.
He said the “fees” for leasing of the land has not yet been finalised and that there will be provisions for the lease to be renewed for another 50 years.
Enhancing trade ties between Indian and Egypt figured prominently during Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s meeting with Sisi here last month.
Egypt has traditionally been one of India’s most important trading partners in the African continent.
Trade between India and Egypt during the last financial year (April 2014-March 2015) has been recorded at $4.76 billion.
Most importantly, India is the sixth largest trading partner of Egypt — the second largest export destination. India’s imports from Egypt were worth $1.74 billion during 2014-15.
Indian businessmen have invested in about 50 companies in Egypt and have given employment opportunities to around 35,000 Egyptians.
Source: Gulf news