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IIM-A to 'help conserve' agricultural land for corporates, launches agri land price index

By Our Representative 

In a surprise move, the Indian Institute of Managment-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) has launched what it calls “India’s first ever Agri Land Price Index” in collaboration with SfarmsIndia in order to help conserve agricultural land into real estate. To be hosted by the Misra Centre for Financial Markets and Economy at IIM-A, India’s premier global management institute hopes to provide ‘quality controlled’ data of prices of agricultural land across the country to corporates.
SFarmsIndia is an agri-land discovery platform, seeking to connect prospective buyers and sellers, claiming to be “one of the very few platforms in India focusing exclusively on agricultural land listings.” It is said to contain 25,000 registered buyers and sellers, offering more than 7,000 land listings.
IIM-A, which formally launched its Agri Land Price Index at the institute, suggests, one main reason it collaborated with SFarmsIndia is, it has been “successful in eliminating middlemen, bringing in price transparency and expanding the prospect set for the rural sellers. With 15% month-on-month growth in listings, with presence in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh, SFarmsIndia is expanding to more states and “product offerings” (APCs & Food Park Lands, Small Farms, etc).
Called IIMA-SFarmsIndia Agri Land Price Index (ISALPI), says an IIM-A source, it will record and present ‘quality controlled’ data of prices of agricultural land across the country. “This index is particularly important in terms of benchmarking land prices in rural and semi-urban areas. In such a case, the index will serve as a reliable source that will signal potential conversion of agricultural land into real estate”, the source says.
Stating that to develop an index for land parcels is a complex task because of visible price differences in different listings caused by a slew of factors including the market wide supply-demand factors, IIM-A says, “The Misra Centre for Financial Markets and Economy at IIMA, under which this index is being launched, will be hosting this index on its official website.”
The index would benefit not just the real estate developers but also policy makers, local governments, environmentalists, investors and financiers
Announcing the decision at the formal meet, Prof Errol D’Souza, director, IIMA, said, one reason why the top business institute decided to go in for indexing land pricing is, “With just over 200 million hectares, India houses just 2% of the world’s cropped land; but feeds over 15% of the world’s population.” However, recently, he added, there is a “surge in entrepreneurial interest in agri land and allied professions... We believe it is the right time to launch such an index for India.”
The IIM-A source claimed, the index would benefit not just the real estate developers but other stakeholders also, including policy makers, local governments, environmentalists, investors and financiers. "For instance, the index can be used by local governments to compensate the people who lose land for highway expansion.”
Project lead and associate professor of Real Estate Finance at IIMA, Dr Prashant Das, said, “Investors could use this information to assess the historical risk and return in the past and predict these metrics for the future to decide on their investment positions. Fund managers and producers could use this information to broadly benchmark their own performance. Financiers and insurers could use this information to assess the risk in the company related to the asset class reflected in the index.”

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