At a time when Indian industrialists are finding it difficult to acquire land without running into trouble with farmers, greens and politicians, among others, the world’s largest landbank holder, by his own admission, is SRK: Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi.
The 43-year-old, known to his classmates at the Ramakrishna Vidyashala in Mysore as “Creema” (because of his love for cream biscuits), now owns 3,000 square kilometres of land in Ethiopia. And at 550 million roses per year, he may now be the world’s largest grower of cut roses.
How big is 3,000 sq km? Eight times the size of Bombay: 740,000 acres.
Creema‘s company, Karuturi Global, is listed by the United Nations conference on trade and development (UNCTAD) as one of the 25 top transnational agri-business corporations. After cut roses, his company has branched into sugarcane, coffee, maize, palm, and other staples, and is all set to enter Uganda and Congo.
According to Forbes, Karuturi Global’s revenue has soared from $1.2 million for the year ended March 2004 to $100 million for fiscal 2008. Profits have jumped from $160,000 to $25.4 million over the same period.
Creema‘s amazing story adorns the launch edition of The Times of India‘s Crest edition in Bombay and Delhi today. Asha Rai reports that Creema was thrown out of six schools before he landed up in at the Ramakrishna Vidyashala, and Creema pays rich tributes to Swami Sureshananda (and his parents) for not giving up on him.
Ramakrishna moved his wife Anita and their three daughters to Addis Ababa six months ago. Not an “outgoing kind of person”, Creema is quoted as saying he’s always home by 7 pm to spend time with his three girls aged 14, 12 and 3. He used to enjoy walking around his farms with his wife Anitha but now has to drive “as they are too big to walk.”
Photograph: courtesy Karuturi Global
Also read: Once upon a time in Ramakrishna Vidyashala