Commodity Online, India 10-03-07 Indian agri institutes to tap commodities boom Commodity Online MUMBAI: Booming commodities market, food processing industry and mushrooming retail chains have resulted in high demand quality agriculture institutes across the country. The growing interest of the corporate sector in agri-schools has driven a number of these institutes to go global. The College of Agri-business Management (CABM) is in advanced talks with the University of Illinois, Iowa State University, University of Manitoba-Canada and the Cornell University. IIM-Lucknow is in talks with the University of Tennessee, University of South Carolina and Purdue University in the US, and Royal Agricultural College, UK. Simultaneously, many institutes, like IIM-Ahmedabad, are also encouraging students to take up student exchange programmes to international universities to understand nuances of the sector abroad. Two students from IIM-Lucknow will be going to Italy in June on the basis of papers they had submitted to the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). Last year, a student from Ahmedabad had gone to a university in France and two French students had spent a semester at IIM-Ahmedabad. As part of the Agriculture Knowledge Initiative, the Ministry of Food Processing is also in talks with Cornell University to set up a world class technical institute for food processing in India. Of late, there has been a spurt in the flow of institutional credit availability in the sector. Already credit to agriculture is included in the priority sector list for lending purposes. Simultaneously, many international institutions have also shown a keen interest in providing funds to the sector. In December 2006, the Asian Development Bank approved a loan of US$ 1 billion for revamping the cooperative credit system. This year, the World Bank has approved a blend of loan and concessional credit of US$ 600 million to India under the Strengthening Rural Credit Cooperatives Project for beefing up its rural cooperative credit structure. All these would strengthen the Government’s existing programme to reform and revitalise the country’s rural credit cooperative banks (CCBs). Already 12 states have signed an agreement with the Centre and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) for the rural cooperative credit structure reform programme. The private sector has also come forward to provide financial assistance for the mutual benefit of industry and farmers. For example, Hatsun Agro Product Ltd has signed up with the State Bank of India (SBI) to provide loans to dairy farmers for a contract farming programme, as a part of which the bank provides loans to small farmers and Hatsun deducts the repayment on the milk price paid to farmers. The unprecedented boom in commodity trading, which has multiplied by a whopping 28 times in just three years, has also opened a vast new job market that is now struggling to find skilled manpower. There are nearly 800 commodity broking houses, agri export and import companies and food processing firms across the country that are frantically searching for the right talent to take their business to the next level. Top-end business schools like IIM Ahmedabad, Management Development Institute (MDI) and Institute of Management Technology (IMT) have prioritised commodity trading in their syllabus. Leading companies have also been recruiting from these institutes. They included this ICICI Prudential, Infosys, Nestle, Mahindra and Mahindra, RPG Retail, Standard Chartered, Aditya Birla, Godrej Agrovet, Pantaloons, Marico and Rabo Bank among others.
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