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October 24, 2011

India’s Tata group plans to grow tea in Ethiopia

 India's Tata group plans to grow tea in Ethiopia and is working towards setting  up an automobile assembly plant in Mozambique as it seeks to expand business interests in Africa.

The group, owner of the Tetley tea brand, has approached Ethiopian authorities with a proposal to venture into tea farming in the landlocked country, said Esayas Kebede, director  of Ethiopia’s agriculture and rural development ministry.

“We are in communication. We have regions in Ethiopia that are suitable for tea
 cultivation, as you have regions such as Assam,” Kebede said in an interview in Hyderabad, where he attended an India-Africa business conference. Around 70% of 40,000 hectares allocated for contract farming has gone to Indian companies, he said.

Cheap land and labor costs in Africa are attracting Indian companies with business interests in agriculture, particularly pulses and edible oils. India imports around 8 million tonnes (mt) of edible oil every year and 3.5 mt of pulses.

Mint reported on 19 October that state-owned trading firm MMTC Ltd,  Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (Iffco) and plan to join the list of Indian
companies engaged in commercial farming in Africa.

Tade between India and Africa rose from $25 billion in 2006-07 to $53.3 billion in 2010-11 as both exports to and imports from the continent swelled, according to a report prepared by the Export-Import Bank of India for the lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Tata Africa Holdings (SA) Pty Ltd has a presence in 10 countries of the continent in sectors as varied as information technology, communications, automobiles, steel, hospitality, consumer products and chemicals.

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