Staff Reporter

Consortium has drawn up diversification projects

KOCHI: The Kalady Rice Millers' Consortium, one of the first industrial clusters in the State, will launch its Exports Incubation Service and export promotion activities on Thursday coinciding with the visit of the delegates of the sixth Commonwealth-India Small Business Competitiveness Development programme.

The Millers' Consortium, launching the second phase of its growth plans, is confident that interaction with delegates from the Commonwealth countries would strengthen its hands in exploring the export market.

The visiting delegates will hold a working session at the Millers' Consortium on networking and clustering as an effective tool for SME development. Industry Secretary to the Government of Kerala, P. H. Kurien, is scheduled to chair the session. The working session will discuss clustering as a means to strengthen SMEs and look at the model provided by the Rice Cluster.

The Rice Millers' Consortium has drawn up ambitious plans for itself, including ventures into power generation and export of value-added products. The Rice Millers' ventures took off in 1993 under the Cluster Development programme of the State Government and since then it has branched off into rice bran oil and refined rice bran oil production.

The consortium initially comprised 33 members. The number has grown to 40 now, said N.P. Antony, managing director of the Consortium. He said the first project was rice bran oil extraction set up at a cost of Rs. 4.5 crore. Refined rice bran oil production will require an investment of Rs. 6.5 crore, of which the Union Government will contribute 70 per cent. The State Government will pitch in 20 per cent and the Consortium members will contribute 10 per cent.

Mr. Antony said the Consortium had also launched a training centre that provided short-term courses in skill and business management.

The Millers' Consortium has also gone in for backward integration through contract farming.