Farm-ing Opportunities-IFFCO

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The Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited, or IFFCO, is an organization that operates in multiple states. All of IFFCO’s shares are owned by India’s Cooperative Societies. Fertilizers are manufactured and marketed by the society. In India, IFFCO is headquartered in New Delhi. Over 50 million Indian farmers are served by its 35,000 member cooperatives, making it the largest cooperative in the world by turnover on GDP per capita (according to World Cooperative Monitor 2021).

IFFCO is India’s biggest fertilizer manufacturer, with around 19% market share in urea and around 31% in complex fertilizers (P2O5).

As of March, 2021, the cooperative ranked 66th on the Fortune India 500 list of India’s biggest corporations with a net worth of $2.6 billion.

Indian farmers and the founding fathers of a ‘young’ India were mobilized by the food crisis of the early 1960s. To increase fertiliser production in India, international organizations conducted feasibility studies, including the American Cooperative Study Team. During that period, 70 percent of India’s chemical fertilizers were distributed by cooperatives. It had adequate infrastructure for distributing fertilisers, but no production facilities. Following the introduction of a multi-agency approach by the Government of India in 1967, the private sector also entered the fertilizer distribution field. In the matter of supplies, private sector production units provided more opportunities to the distribution network of private trade than cooperatives. The cooperatives began receiving fewer fertilizers as a result of this development.

To overcome this limitation and to meet the growing demand for fertilizer in the country, a new cooperative was formed. Its core values of self-help, accountability, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity made it particularly appealing. As early as 1964, the Cooperative League of USA proposed to the Government of India that American cooperatives would be interested in collaborating with Indian cooperatives to produce fertilizer.

There was considerable interest in the idea among the Government of India and eminent cooperators. On 3 November 1967, Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) was conceived and registered as a multi-unit cooperative society with the primary purpose of producing and distributing fertilizers.

In the 2000s, IFFCO became an autonomous cooperative, expanding its presence in India and abroad. In 2000, IFFCO Tokio General Insurance Company Ltd. was established and customized rural-centric insurance products were launched. Oman India Fertilizer Company was acquired by IFFCO. Kisan International Trading FZE (KIT), a wholly owned subsidiary in Dubai, was established to import, export and handle logistics for fertilizers, raw materials, and intermediates. The company also made forays into Jordan, establishing Jordan India Fertilizer Company L.L.C. and IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd, a unique venture to bring modern mobile communications to rural India. This acquisition allowed IFFCO to expand its presence in the fertilizer industry, as well as the mobile market in India. KIT provided IFFCO with the ability to source and distribute fertilizers, raw materials, and intermediates, while JIFCO provided them with the opportunity to service the growing fertilizer market in Jordan. IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd, on the other hand, allowed them to bring modern mobile communications to rural India, providing an invaluable service to rural communities.

The production facility at Paradeep marked the first ever private sector acquisition in 2005 by any cooperative. The deep draft facility of Paradeep port enabled the entry of large ships across the year while the conveyor belt facility made it easier to transport material, making Paradeep the right strategic investment for IFFCO.

The Paradeep unit is headed by Mr KJ Patel, a Mechanical Engineer from the Saurashtra University with rich experience in the maintenance of nitrogenous and phosphatic fertilizer plants. Before joining Paradeep, he worked in IFFCO’s Kalol unit for more than two decades in various capacities. A widely travelled technocrat, Mr Patel has delivered many presentations and contributed scores of papers in disparate national and international platforms in the field of plant maintenance technologies.

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