ICOA Newsletter

Posted on by on April 27th, 2020 | Comments Off on ICOA Newsletter

ICOA – COVID-19 UPDATE BULLETIN Dated April 26, 2020

(by Abhay V. Udeshi, Chairman, Jayant Agro-Organics Ltd.)

NEWS FROM INDIA

“Corona”, was only heard as a serious matter across the world that existed only in China – a localized issue till end of February 2020. Everything one heard was news from China –

“Factory activity in China has contracted at the fastest pace ever in February, even worse than during the global financial crisis, highlighting the colossal damage from the coronavirus outbreak on the world’s second-largest economy.”

“The sombre readings provide the first official snapshot of the Chinese economy’s state since the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic which has killed almost 3,000 people in mainland China and infected about 80,000.”

And then comes March 2020 –

“The World Bank on March 3, 2020 announced an initial $12 billion in immediate funds to assist countries grappling with the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak that has spread quickly from China to over 60 countries. World Bank President David Malpass said there were still “many unknowns” about the fast-spreading virus, and “much more” aid might be required.”

Things changed rapidly, it was March 6, 2020 when people started talking about seriously in India at different levels whereby many social gatherings, travel plans, conferences looked at it seriously, with many cancellations. On March 14/15, 2020 – With its rapid geographical spread, WHO (World Health Organization) declared the COVID-19 pandemic which would have very serious ramifications for health as also the economy. Rapid changes followed across India. The Commercial Capital of India – Mumbai first issued notices for the companies to work with 50% work force on March 16 and within three days – a complete shutdown was announced. Most people in the city were taken by surprise as the city never sleeps otherwise. All trains, taxis, offices, cinema halls, malls, etc all closed. Most Mumbaikars started work from home. This was then followed by State after state shutting down.

On March 21, 2020 – there was an announcement by the Prime Minister of India to have one day complete lockdown from morning 9:00 am to 9:00 pm on March 22nd and which was well demonstrated by every citizen.

On March 23, 2020 evening, again the Prime Minister of India addressed the Nation and a complete Lockdown for 21 days was announced beginning from March 25, 2020 00:00 hours i.e. tll April 15, 2020. This was necessary for India to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 spread. Under the Guidelines all Government offices, Public Corporations, Commercial and Private establishments, Industrial establishments, all transport services – air, rail, roadways (except transportation of essential goods, fire, law and order and emergency services), Hospitality Services (except Hotels, lodges, etc for accommodating tourists and persons stranded due to lockdown, emergency situation, air and sea crew and or for quarantine purposes), all educational, training, research, coaching institutes, all places of worship, all social, political, sports, etc. Only essential manufacturing was allowed that too after taking or getting permission. The main focus of the Government was to save “LIFE”.

Castor Oil industry was no exception – everything was shut for 21 days – as most farm activities were shut as also most market yards were shut, so castor seeds trading could happen. Crushing Plants, Derivatives manufacturing, logistics (transport and shipment in containers), Clearing and Forwarding, Container Freight stations, many ports too declared force majeure conditions, etc as no labour or manpower was available. Many of the workforce had gone back to their hometown /villages.

After the Lockdown period which has so far contained the spread of the COVID-19 in the country, the Government of India has changed gears and now looking at “LIFE” as well as “Livelihood”. On April 15, 2020, the Government ordered an extension of Lockdown in the whole country for a further period of 18 days i.e. up to May 3, 2020 but gave some relaxation to start the economic activities in a gradual manner from April 20, 2020 onwards (30 – 40% utilization of manpower and thus production). The manufacturing activities will depend upon location, which are divided amongst 3 zones – Red, Orange and Green, Red being the most severe where no manufacturing activities will be permitted. The agro-processing industries has also been allowed to start including the castor industry.

The manufacturing Company needs to maintain very high standards to meet the Sanitary, hygiene, social distancing, etc norms as laid down of having all the PPE’s (Personal Protective Equipments), monitoring temperatures of all people entering and leaving the premises, etc. The Company can be held responsible under various sections of the law which includes criminal codes, etc., a draconian law, in case if any person gets infected. This was then clarified on April 23rd, that no such actions will be taken – a big relief. Great care with proper documentation and training to all the concerned people is now the new norm for the industry. Manpower challenge continues.

It looks India is in the right direction and if we continue to demonstrate the flattening of the curve, more and more economic activities will be permitted and the industry like the rest of the world will be running at normal capacity with no restrictions.

We do realize the importance of castor oil and derivatives to the global market from India as it contributes to over 85% – 90% of the global needs and plays a vital role to many industries. India will continue to support the Global needs and is together with the world in this hour of need.

Global Scenario –

We saw three bulk vessels being shipped to Europe totaling to about 18,500 tons of castor oil during the lockdown period between March 25, 2020 to April 15, 2020. Shipments in containers were by and large absent during this lockdown period barring a few lots which may have been carted to docks prior to the Lockdown. With the economic activities improving, manufacturing, CHA’s, CFS’ now in operation, we could see a steady increase in the shipments from India as most industries globally have been running almost at normal levels.

Will keep updating in these testing times.

Stay Safe and Stay Healthy.

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