Origo Sino-India, an AIM-listed private equity and consulting company focused on China and India, is raising a $300 million agriculture fund. The fund will have a bias for Australasia, according to a report on Private Equity Online.

Origo currently manages Origo Resource Partners, a listed investment fund making private equity investments in natural resource opportunities in China and India. The firm also has investments in other sectors such as art and paper products, furniture, food and beverages, online gaming, anti-virus software, bio energy and mobile applications.

There has certainly been a marked shift to counter-cyclic sectors, as the real economy gets hit hard, making investing difficult for private equity investors. Investment in companies involved in agriculture related activities sees a surge in interest as the sector is expected to not to see a slowdown in demand as the global economy slides.

Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia announced its first deal in India by picking up a minority stake in castor oil maker Biotor Industries Ltd for Rs 182 crore.

Private equity major, Blackstone Group recently picked up a stake in Hyderabad-based seed maker Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd, a part of the privately-owned NSL Group. Chennai-based agro solutions firm Sree Ramcides raised Rs 25 crore from sector and stage agnostic fund ePlanet Ventures.

Besides general private equity funds, sector focused funds are likely to increase their activity in this sector. Earlier this year Rabobank raised a $100 million food and agriculture fund for India. 

Despite a global slowdown, agri and processed food exports from India may register an increase in absolute growth in the current financial year. Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) is seeing a growth in absolute terms in exports due to higher demand from Asian and African markets that are aggressively procuring relatively cheaper products from countries such as India.

According to official data, India exported about 17.5 million tonne of agri and processed foods worth Rs 31,870 crore in FY08 against 10.9 million tonne valued at Rs 21,805.9 crore the previous year.


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