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Adding sustainability quotient to agriculture

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ALKESH SHARMA / EMIRATES BUSINESS

Popularly known as ‘Green Man’, Sudhakar Tomar is constructively supporting agri-business sectors in Middle East, India and Africa for the last over a decade.
Based in Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), a free zone authority for the JLT Free Zone, Tomar is ensuring that investments in agriculture sector are not only socially and economically sustainable but also environmentally sustainable.
As the CEO of Hakan Agro DMCC, his business interests are centered around trading, origination and processing activities, supply chain management operations and setting up sprawling farming projects. His company specialises in supply chain management of agricultural commodities such as pulses, oil seeds and edible oils, frozen poultry and meats, dairy products, spices, and dried fruits.
Established in Dubai in 1996, Hakan is a true homegrown multi-national with 30 overseas offices warehouses, processing and logistics facilities that currently export 54 different food products from 55 countries to over 1000 customers in 82 countries.
Besides, it also operates in the US$15 trillion global food industry, which is low margin yet recession resilient.
Emirates Business spoke to Tomar to have a better insight of his corporate journey.

Your business is keenly focusing on India and Africa. How you look at these two places from the point of view of agriculture?
Hakan Agro has been operating in India and Africa with direct presence since over 20 years now and we are aware of the fact that both India and Africa, with their abundant resources and resilient people are keys to a sustainable future of food .
India with soon to be largest populous country in the world and Africa as the second most populous and biggest continent, with maximum number of 53 countries, will play an important part in global supply and demand of food. Although one-third of Africa is desert land but Africa has around 600 million hectares/1.5 billion acres of uncultivated arable land, roughly 60 percent of the global total.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes have been the core of your corporate society. How they are contributing to the society?
Hakan Agro as an organisation that believes providing good remuneration to farmers and respectable living conditions for rural poor are key requirements for sustainable future of food. We as an organisation are strongly committed to helping the marginal farmers – the weakest component but the strongest link of food supply chain – through direct actions such as vocational programmes and rural educational initiatives in Asia and Africa.
In June 2012, in Addis Ababa, Hakan Agro DMCC pledged support to G-8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. It is an initiative by African Union, NEPAD and World Economic Forum. We are strongly committed to empower the farmer and to make affordable food available to all especially in MENA, Africa and South Asia region.
Our organisation has also been involved with Global Pulse Confederation (GPC), Dubai, since 1999. The confederation enjoys observer status with multilateral bodies ( such as FAO, Codex, United Nations , WHO, WTO) and represents the interests of 100 billion dollars of pulses industry ( growers , traders and consumers ) with over 60 million tonnes in pulses production all across the globe. As an organisation, we are spearheading various initiatives under UN declaration of 2016 as the ‘International Year of Pulses’, showcasing CICILS at Expo 2020 and at Dubai Food Trade Advisory Group.

You are based in Dubai and from here you are catering to outside world. How being in Dubai is helping you?
Yes, Dubai base is certainly helping us. Frankly speaking other than the increasing costs and permanency issues of manpower we did not face any barriers or hindrances. Dubai, as an quintessential trading hub, since over 150, is full of infectious but positive entrepreneurial energy. The city offers so many fantastic benefits propositions such as stable government, a strategic location with convenient time-zone and great infrastructure.
I have travelled across the world and can firmly say that despite the global slowdown and political problems elsewhere, Dubai remains one of the fastest growing service centers in this region of more than 2 billion people. I believe Dubai’s competitors still can’t not match its pragmatic mixture of quick decisions, freedoms, conveniences and incentives.
What is the mantra behind your organisation’s success and what is your take on the increasing food products demand globally?
In today’s world, the key to success for any organisation is keeping the long term interests of the team aligned with the organisational objectives, managing diversity and handling change effectively.
We have an experienced core management team of diverse cultures, capabilities, backgrounds and complementary strengths. Despite the different approaches and management styles, the team always stick together in every situation. Consensus is what we always strive for till we get the desired result. As an organisation, we value the continuity of business and pride ourselves being private yet professionally managed.
World would need to increase the food production by some 70 percent in 2050. Production in the developing countries would need to go up or they will have to import 100 percent more than what they are doing now. Middle East and North Africa region makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it consumes more than 20 percent of the world’s grain exports. Imports have increased from 30 million tonnes of grain in 1990 to nearly 70 million tons in 2011 . Middle East will need 200 million tonnes by 2050, equal to 66 percent of current world grain exports. We are in growth mode and see ourselves as an active and agile player in the entire food supply chain with strong focus on countries which are foods originators and consumers mainly in Middle East, Canada Africa and South Asia.

Is agriculture also contributing to greenhouse emmissions or climate changes?
Climate change is harming crop production all over the world, especially in those countries which are already poor, water deficient, and food vulnerable. With frequent draughts, unseasonal rains and temperature variations, it will increase the risk of global food insecurity.
Agriculture also contributes to climate change by emissions of greenhouse gases and by the conversion of non-agricultural land (forests) into agricultural land. Especially meat and dairy industry are contributing around 20 to 25 percent to global annual emissions of greenhouse gases. As an organisation, we are supporting initiatives that advocate the introductions of clean agriculture practices.

Whom you consider your role model?
I strongly feel that with success a person should become more humble, generous, sensitive and more accessible to people to pass on the experiences of his journey to a larger audience. Nothing embodies this philosophy more than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who have used their good fortune to do great things for the society. Together they have pledged about US$70 billion or more than 70 percent of their net worth for charitable causes. I also greatly admire Dubai leadership, who believe in genuinely empowering people. UAE leaders have performed a stunning transformation of Dubai into one of the best flourishing city at an
astonishing speed.

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