The state’s successful sugar doyens are eyeing newer ventures such as operating large farmlands in African nations and teaching them a lesson or two about co-operatives.
This month-end, state rural development minister Jayant Patil-controlled Rajarambapu Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana (SSK), founded by his father, will sign an agreement with Mozambique government to operate a farm on 17,000 hectares.
Patil, who runs four sugar cooperatives in Sangli, will be leased out this land for 49 years at a subsidised rent for agriculture. Rajarambapu SSK got the offer after officials of the Republic of Mozambique on a visit to the state, saw the running of their sugar mill.
Sudan government officials too have made an offer to Patil to take up farmland on lease or set up a sugar co-operative here.
“The Mozambique offer was quite good, as the Zambezi river is running through this land and the climate as well as soil is very productive.
African governments have been leasing out large tracts of land to foreigners as they want to promote agriculture and many have been impressed with the running of our co-operatives,’’ said Patil.
One of the conditions of the agreement is that other than minimal skilled labour required to get the farm off the ground, the SSK should make use of only locals for work. They plan to grow local produce including cassava and rice, which has big demand locally.
Patil is also eyeing an opportunity of running a sugar mill in Kenya.
Patil’s SSK has given an offer to the Kenyan government to take up the running of one of its sick sugar mills for a 29-yearlease.
“We don’t plan to buy it or set up our own unit but since the Kenyan government is looking at providing a subsidy to these units, we can take over post this and ensure a better running of the mill,’’ said Patil.
Other successful sugar cooperatives may follow suit, especially with governments of nations like Sudan giving them an open invitation to invest in farmland or sugar mills, to help them structure an efficient cooperative structure.