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Neha International: Spreading Fragrance

Talk about a rosy picture. Neha International, a Hyderabad-based firm, is mainly involved in floriculture and corporate farming. But what Neha takes pride in, is its rose business

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Talk about a rosy picture. Neha International, a Hyderabad-based firm, is mainly involved in floriculture and corporate farming. But what Neha takes pride in, is its rose business. Promoted by G. Vinod Reddy, Neha International started its business in 1993. The company later sold its farm in Pune and shifted key operations to Africa, where the company has two sets of land — one for floriculture business and other for food grains.

At the time the company shifted its business to Africa, they also realised that growing flowers and other agriculture commodities in Ethiopia appeared to be catching up with spiralling interest of Indian entrepreneurs. The company cashed in on the conducive climate for agriculture in Ethiopia and also lured investors through incentives. Ethiopia also provided the right base for the company to target markets in the Middle East and Europe. “In the last decade, there has been a shift in the base of floriculture production to countries in South America and Africa, while the Middle-East has emerged as a major market for flowers,” the company says.

Following the spree, Neha International has struck a deal to acquire 49.99 per cent stake in Oromia Wonders, a floriculture unit located in Ethiopia. With this acquisition, the company through its wholly-owned arm Globeagro Holdings owned 99.99 per cent in Oromia Wonders. In 2007, Neha had acquired Mauritius-based Globeagro Holdings for a consideration of Rs 41.32 crore, and had management control of three Ethiopian floriculture companies — Holetta Roses, Alliance Flowers and Oromia Wonders.

At present, Neha International has 18 hectares of green houses, half an hour from Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa. Neha specialises in producing premium quality roses at high altitudes — approximately 8,500 feet above sea level. With a skilled staff that has nearly two decades of expertise in floriculture, it exports roses to Japan, Europe, Australia and the Middle East.

“After establishing ourselves as exporters of premium roses from Ethiopia to Japan, we have expanded operations cultivating staple crops in a phased manner,” informs the company’s spokesperson.

Neha started diversifying its business by using its core competencies and its understanding of the soil. From being a supplier of flowers to Europe and the Middle East, it started targeting cultivation of wheat, rice, pulses and oil seeds.

“We plan to include sugarcane in the subsequent phases. Our team of scientists and researchers constantly upgrade cultivation methods to ensure best quality agricultural produce,” says the spokesperson.

In a well-designed, phased manner, Neha has started rolling out the operations on 4,000 hectares of land (on lease) in Ethiopia. It has also acquired 10,000 acres in Ethiopia through its wholly-owned subsidiary as part of a diversification strategy and to boost its presence in agriculture. Company’s net sales in 2012 stood at over Rs 78 crore which jumped to Rs 326 crore in 2015, registering a four-fold increase in revenue.

Listed on the stock exchange in 1995, Neha employs 1,000 people. It lists agriculture as a priority sector and assures current and future investors the best returns in the industry. Neha has also built up a programme, Outreach Neha, which seeks to build the capacity of local farmers. “By providing them access to quality inputs of seeds, fertilisers and expert advice on cultivation practices, access to rice mill for processing and buyout opportunities, we plan to close the gaps in the value-chain of food growing, harvesting, storage, processing and distribution systems,” says the company’s website. Neha envisions building an e-network to link local farmers to best practices in its farm, and also connect to agronomists in local and Indian universities.