Agriculture

Boosting demand for organic biofoods in India

Sresta Organic Biofoods achieves growth of 60% per year

India’s expanding middle class is boosting demand for healthy, organic foods. responsAbility funds have been investing in market leader Sresta since 2011 and has seen the business enjoying growth of 60% per year.

Development investments Sresta organic biofoods

Global demand for organically produced foods is increasing by 8–9% annually. In India, there is a growing awareness of the importance of a healthy diet among its 1.2 billion people. This is creating attractive prospects for the 250 million Indians employed in agriculture.

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Market leader Sresta Natural Bioproducts distributes organic produce grown by 20,000 farmers to consumers in India and other countries. Through its investment vehicles responsAbility provides the company with working capital, which it uses to bridge the period from when it buys the harvest to when it sells it on to traders.

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Rajashekar Reddy Seelam (Raj) is the Founder and Managing Director of Sresta. The son of a farmer and an agricultural engineer, Raj is a firm advocate of organic farming. His company works tirelessly to increase organic cultivation in India and develop the domestic market for organic produce.

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Workers in Poosarlapadu thresh the rice to separate it from the chaff. Sresta has been working with farmers from Poosarlapadu, one of the first villages in India to switch to organic farming methods, and buying their crops since 2008.

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High-quality organically grown paddy rice is Poosarlapadu’s most important product – along with pulses and chillies. All Poosarlapadu’s produce is grown according to strict rules and specifications.

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Instead of expensive chemicals, Poosarlapadu farmers use plant-based substances they produce themselves from materials available in the village. These home-made organic fertilisers and pesticides cost virtually nothing to produce.

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Harvesting is labour intensive work. Women hoist bundles of sugar cane – each weighing around 25 kg – onto their heads and then carry them up a steep slope to a vehicle waiting nearby.

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Paddy rice is heaped into large piles then covered with a protective layer of straw while awaiting transportation. Thanks to organic production methods and fair margins, farmers do not buy expensive fertilisers and they receive USD 2 more for each bag of paddy rice.

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Sresta does more than just source organically produced foods. Its production facilities in Medchal, Hyderabad, is one of 25 locations at which foods are collected, sorted, processed and packaged. A total of 160 employees, including 100 women, work at the plant.

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Naresh Kumar manages the production facility at Medchal. As India is a tropical country, all kinds of pests thrive there so appropriate storage, processing and packaging in essential. Spices and cereals are stored in a cool place. Coriander seeds are roasted to prevent them being targeted by pests.

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Strict hygiene checks ensure the consistently high quality of Sresta’s products. Eight employees work in the plant’s laboratory and quality assurance. They analyse samples of the harvest one week prior to delivery to assess its quality.

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Rice is checked to detect any impurities. Soya beans are checked to determine their fat content. If any residues from pesticides or harmful substances are found, the product is rejected.

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Nirupama Raghavan supervises the plant’s biochemical laboratory. A team of food scientists are responsible for developing new ideas for processed products such as breakfast cereals, fruit juices, biscuits or cold-pressed oils.

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Sresta’s products are sold under the 24Mantra brand in all modern supermarket chains. Head of Marketing Raghuveer Reddy encourages Indian consumers to buy organic food by explaining the difference and ensuring products are affordable to the largest possible number of people.

PERSPECTIVES

Perspectives 2015/2016

Sresta has been achieving growth of between 60% and 77% for years and is planning to further expand its network of suppliers, as well as its production process and distribution channels. You can read the full story in the 2015/2016 Perspectives: Investments for Prosperity Report.

Sresta has been achieving growth of between 60% and 77% for years and is planning to further expand its network of suppliers, as well as its production process and distribution channels. You can read the full story in the 2015/2016 Perspectives: Investments for Prosperity Report.

Sresta has been achieving growth of between 60% and 77% for years and is planning to further expand its network of suppliers, as well as its production process and distribution channels. You can read the full story in the 2015/2016 Perspectives: Investments for Prosperity Report.

Sresta has been achieving growth of between 60% and 77% for years and is planning to further expand its network of suppliers, as well as its production process and distribution channels. You can read the full story in the 2015/2016 Perspectives: Investments for Prosperity Report.