By Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera
CIC Holdings PLC is set to venture into the African continent with agricultural farming proposals by 2013, officials said.
“We’re planning to go to Kenya and Ethiopia with such projects due to land limitations in Sri Lanka,” Samantha Ranatunga Managing Director/CEO CIC told the Business Times. He said this is at its preliminary stage and the company is trying to identify land in these countries. “We want to grow cereals and vegetables in these projects in both these places,” he said, adding that CIC wants to start the projects by end next year.
He said CIC which is mainly into agricultural production and agricultural input sectors, is adversely affected due to the uncertain weather patterns, downturn in the fast moving consumer goods market and slow demand which came with the credit crunch.
Mr. Ranatunga said that in a bid to beat the uncertainties of the weather, the company has made a strategic decision to shift to value addition in their products and large dairy projects. “We are the largest exporter of high quality rice. We also increased exports in banana and other fruits. We’re going into other areas such as fruit varieties, mangoes, pineapples, etc”.
The company is gearing to set up a daily milk processing operation in Dambulla with an Rs 400 million investment. “We’re trying to set up a production facility in Dambulla for dairy products,” Mr. Ranatunga said, adding that this facility will have around 25, 000 litre capacity per day and all the products will be used for local consumption.
He also said that CIC’s Hingurakgoda Farms and newly commissioned Siddapura and Muthuwella farms are expected to cater the growing demand of dairy industry in the country.
He added that now the focus of CIC, famously known as a paint/chemical company with the Dulux brand is to grow its agricultural and livestock sectors. “This is because these sectors give some of the best opportunities in the current economy in the country,” he said. He said that CIC’s agriculture and livestock sector stands as the core business accounting for a contribution of 52 per cent of total revenue at CIC.
The company has operations in producing agricultural inputs such as seeds, planting material, livestock products, and distribution of machineries plus blending and marketing fertiliser.
The company has also ventured into Bangladesh with a large Bangladeshi supermarket chain -Rahimafrooz where CIC will do extension work with Bangladeshi farmers and source agricultural produce to this chain. “We’re replicating the same model, which we have here in Sri Lanka, in Bangladesh,” he said, explaining that by promoting CIC’s agricultural model, the company will tap new potential markets in the future.
“We’re helping the farmers with the fertilizer and transfer of technology in order to improve the quality of their products,” he explained. He said that CIC also started a similar operation in the UAE by setting up green houses there in a bid to grow plats and market them.
“We ventured into a partnership with Dubai based S. S. Lootah International to supplying indoor plants,” he said, adding that the latter is a well-recognized landscape construction and plants maintenance company in the UAE.