DW BUREAU / MOHALI
Leading players in the Agro Industry on Friday batted for providing value addition to the agricultural produce of farmers in order to ensure remunerative returns for them.
The consensus on the issue emerged during the session, ‘Agri & Food Processing Session-Punjab: Value Addition to Agri Economy’ session’ on the second day of the Progressive Punjab Investor Summit-2019.
The delegates also underscored the need to lay special focus on the processing of fruits, vegetables, animals and meats, besides developing logistics & cold chains. They stressed the need to process the agro wastes to avoid environmental degradation, and thereby achieve the goal of sustainable agriculture.
On the occasion, an MoU was signed between Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, and California State University, Fresno for undertaking research collaboration and student exchange in the field of agriculture and food processing.
Earlier, addressing a galaxy of agriculture experts academicians, researchers, agro-industrialists and progressive farmers, Additional Chief Secretary, Development, Viswajeet Khanna underlined the need to motivate farmers to adopt smart farming technologies, micro irrigation and use of the recycled/processed/treated waste water for irrigation purposes.
Outlining the strengths of the state’s Agriculture sector, Khanna said that Punjab was the 6th largest milk producer in India, with 32.5 million litres daily production. It ranked second in Mandarin orange (kinnow) accounting for 24% of the country’s total production, as well as 3rdin Honey accounting for 15 percent of total production and 21% of total honey exports from India.
Khanna further pointed out Punjab had an extensive network of Infrastructure, production, storage and marketing, with dedicated Research Centres like PAU, Fruit Research Station Bahadurgarh, Patiala, and Jallowal Hoshiarpur. He invited the private players to explore the tremendous opportunities offered by the state to develop agro industry, and to forge collaborations with PAU
The technical session was moderated by Chairman Punjab State Farmers’ Commission Ajay Vir Jakhar. The panelists included CEO Godrej Tyson Foods Prashant Vatkar, MD CN IFFCO Inigo Anton, Head of Finance, Food Division, ITC Neel Kingston and Agriculture Scientist Prabhakar Rao.
Jakhar strongly advocated improvement in the Indo-Pak relations, which would ultimately benefit the Punjabi farmers and facilitate export of their agricultural produce like fruit, vegetables and dairy products to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kazakhistan etc. This move would be instrumental in opening new vistas of export potential for agri-products from Punjab in Central Asia, thereby transforming the destiny of the state’ farmers.
Taking part in the deliberations, Neel Kingston said that since Punjab alone was contributing 7 percent of the country’s milk share and 6 percent of egg production, it should be developed as the ‘protein source of the country’. He hailed the initiative of Punjab Government for facilitating the ITC group in setting up its state-of-the-art Agro food unit at Kapurthala. Transformation in traditional agriculture was the need of the day and, in line with this mission, ITC was extensively working to improve the quality of seeds and vegetables to enable the farmers to reap the maximum benefit from their yield, he said.
Sharing his experience, MD CN IFFCO Ingio Anton appreciated the support and cooperation extended to them by the Punjab Government in setting up their venture at Ludhiana. He underlined the need to build a strong partnership based on long-term relationship between the farmers and Agro industry, for mutual benefit.
CEO Godrej Tyson Foods Prashant Vatkar emphasised the need to bring awareness amongst the consumers about the products they buy from the market for realisation of their value of money. Showing concern over the lack of value addition in the agriculture sector, Vatkar said that the private players in the Agro sector should come forward to transform the conventional agriculture into value-added.