I travelled the length, if not the breadth, of this amazing country over the past two weeks. While the news continues to be dominated by stories of our political paralysis, and now the slowdown of economic growth to 5 1/2%, the on the ground business stories continue to be amazing.
Blazing hot and arid Rajasthan is on the cusp of an economic boom. Oil had been found, there are solar power projects and wind energy projects coming up, all of which combined will make the state a net supplier of energy to the rest of the country.
One of the State's principal export commodities, guar gum, used in the oil and gas industry as a drilling lubricant, has seen a twenty fold increase in value over the past three years!
Amazing deserts in both Jaipur and Jodhpur. Janta Sweets.
Rajasthan grows a crop called isapgol, rich in fibre. The isapgol fibre is exported to Europe where it is inserted into wheat prior to bread production. Wheat's own fibre is extracted and put into baby food, where it fetches a higher price!
Was in Kerala this week. Pre monsoon, but light rain had started. Farmers were busy readying their fields for paddy planting. The first monsoon rains clear the land of all polutants, after which the planting starts
Had to drive three hours from Cochin to Kollam to meet with cashew customers. India produces 400,000 tons of cashew itself and imports a further 700,000 tons from west Africa. Indian cashew peelers have higher productivity than their Brazilian counterparts. In India only 10% of cashew nuts are broken, vs 50% in Brazil.
The vessels berth in India mid monsoon but the product needs to be dried, so a big part of the produce is trucked through Kerala, into Tamil Nadu where the monsoon hits in December as opposed to June July.
The peeled cashews are re exported to roasters in Europe and the US, where they are sold as premium canned products.
Fish going from Kerala to Bangkok (makarel) and small shrimp to Japan. The small early monsoon shrimp is sent to Japan for inclusion in the cup a noodle products, which require a small shrimp.
China taking over as a buyer from Europe: higher demand, better prices, less regulation and less rejections.
Fish producers are now offering readily cut portions to hotels that are sized to a curry! The chefs love it, the purchasing departments don't always!
Coffee demand very low this year as the Brazilian crop is good. Indians will store their product until the price is right.
This visit also gives an insight into global competitors. While India and Pakistan have a monopoly on guar gum, for other products India competes with countries such as Brazil (sugar, meat, coffee, poultry), Vietnam (fish, coffee, cashew).
In the meantime Chennai port once again ground to a halt. Someone in the border security force decided to perform a check on the numbering of all containers, slowing down the entry and exit of containers to and from the port. In response the truck drivers to go on strike, really bringing business to a hault. Go nuts.
Btw, the banner photo was taken from our holiday home outside of San Gimignano at 6.20 am. What light! It lasted all of five minutes.