In a country where the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has had a presence for decades, the organization held its official ribbon-cutting ceremony in India last week to mark the opening of its office there. The first new office for the organization since 2010, Council staff and member-leaders, including Josh Miller, USGC chairman; Brent Boydston, USGC vice chairman; Verity Ulibarri, USGC secretary-treasurer; and Chad Willis, USGC past chairman, along with Greg Krissek, Kansas Corn Commission CEO, traveled to New Delhi to be there in person for the event.
“After more than 25 years of engagement in India, we now have our own office with full-time staff on the ground in New Delhi. India is increasing in importance in the global demand for feed grains and their co-products,” said USGC Vice President Cary Sifferath.
“India is already a top customer of U.S. ethanol for industrial use. The potential for more ethanol and feed grains demand is there and having a full-time presence and staff on the ground working on the constraints to open the market is key for future development. Thanks to the Kansas Corn Commission for additional grant funding that has allowed us to make the expansion of a full-time office and staff in this growing market possible.”
Over the years, the Council has worked in the India market with the local livestock feed industry before shifting its efforts to primarily advocating for ethanol imports. To grow this demand for ethanol and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), the Council began the process of opening its newest office in 2018 and staff officially moved into it in July 2022.
“In early 2019, USGC hired a law firm to identify the steps to create a legal entity in India,” said Alejandra Danielson-Castillo, USGC director in India. “That process involved two parts – setting up a liaison office (LO) with the Government of India and once that was done, registering with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to open a bank account. The application documents went through several hands, offices and departments within the Indian government and the U.S. embassy in India. The first part of the application process began in February 2019, and USGC was granted LO status in November 2021. The registration with the RBI and subsequent opening of a bank account started in November 2021 and was finished by May 2022.”
In addition to the grand opening ceremony, the Council’s India office took part in the India Auto Expo that ran from Jan. 12-18. The Council used this event as a time to highlight its efforts in ethanol promotion and the benefits biofuels can bring to the country within the automotive industry.
The Council has formed important relationships with champions for fuel ethanol in the country over the past few years, including the Society of Indian Automobile Association (SIAM). Last week, the Council solidified that partnership. The organizations came together at the expo to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) through which SIAM has agreed to support the Council’s efforts to promote higher ethanol blending in India.
“The Council has always sought to build relationships that are mutually beneficial, and we are delighted to be partnering with the leaders of the automotive sector, especially as they are the ones leading the Indian ethanol program,” Danielson-Castillo said. “It was incredible to see such ferocious support for this industry and to have been invited to be participants and sponsors. As we look to the years ahead, the Council is convinced that the work begun with this MOU will expand to highlight the many benefits that ethanol can bring to India’s economy.” The opening of the Council’s new office marks an important milestone in the organization’s history. By having a physical office in India, the Council is building a long-term strategy that goes beyond transactions and focuses on relationship building.