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EVENTS

PAU hosts one-day Agri and Food Conclave; Punjab dubbed agri samrat
Saturday, 19 May, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
“Punjab is a samrat (crowned head) of agriculture,” said Sunder Sham Arora, minister for industries and commerce, Government of Punjab, who inaugurated the one-day Agri and Food Conclave, which took place at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, recently.

The inaugural session of the conclave, jointly organised by the Department of Industries and Commerce, Government of Punjab; Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and PAU, was attended by industrialists, entrepreneurs, farmers and the varsity’s faculty.

Arora said, “Punjab, with a total cultivable area of 4.2 million hectare, produces 19 per cent of wheat, 10 per cent of rice, 10 per cent of milk, 20 per cent of honey, 48 per cent of mushroom and five per cent of cotton.”

“Industry is the backbone of Punjab, and there are 1.6 lakh micro-, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the state,” he added, stating that providing employment opportunities will finish the drug menace in the state.

Saluting PAU for its remarkable contribution to the food security of the nation, Arora said there was a lot to learn from the university.

He stated that subsidiary occupations (27.38 per cent) have contributed significantly to the growth of agriculture during 2016-17. “With food parks being set up in different districts of the state, Punjab is sure to move ahead in food processing,” the minister added, highlighting the schemes of the department.

In his presentation titled Academia-Industry Interface, Baldev Singh Dhillon, vice-chancellor, PAU, said, “Agriculture is highly intensive with income increasing and profit decreasing due to mismatch of input and output prices.”

“Agro-processing industry in Punjab is facing several challenges, such as inadequate availability of raw material, inadequate post-harvest infrastructure, inadequate research and development by processing industry, fragmented value chains and policy distortions,” he added.

Dhillon called for developing strong linkages between PAU and the industry for strengthening of the food processing sector. He also acquainted the gathering with PAU’s food industry business incubation centre.

R K Verma, principal secretary, industries and commerce and information technology, Government of Punjab, said, “Transforming the state from the food bowl to the food processing hub of India is important to create job opportunities in rural areas, increase farmers’ incomes and for overall economic development.”

He highlighted that the state government’s industrial policy focuses on good-quality infrastructure, quality and interrupted power, entrepreneurship development and sustainability of MSMEs.

Sanjay Singhal, chief operating officer, dairy and beverages, ITC Limited, urged the government to provide processing facilities for fruits and vegetables, which are being grown in Punjab on a large scale.

Rinkesh Satija, head, agro, PepsiCo India Holding Pvt Limited, said the need of the hour was to provide cold storage infrastructure, promote micro-irrigation, develop varieties for potato processing and promote mechanisation.

Bhavdeep Sardana, senior vice-president and chief executive officer, Sukhjit Starch and Chemicals Limited, said the government’s thrust on food processing in industrial policy was a welcome step. “With maize cultivation being promoted in the state, emphasis should also be laid on maize processing,” he added. Later, he made a presentation titled Integration of food chain - Key to diversification.

Akshay Bector, chairman and managing director, Cremica Food Industries Limited, said, “We need to look forward to value-added farming and for this mechanisation of the practices will be helpful.” He suggested that higher productivity and enhancement in the incomes of the farmers in food processing should be the focus area.

During the conclave, Vikas Garg, managing director, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Limited, spoke on State Public Sector Undertakings - Leading the Food Revolution, while Atya Nand, deputy secretary, ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI), Government of India, shared his views on empowering and strengthening state capabilities in food management.

On the occasion, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the the Department of Industries and Commerce, Government of Punjab, and PAU.

In addition, 25 MoUs were inked with MSMEs. Two technical sessions, titled Opportunities and Challenges in Food Sector and Developing Linkages in Food Chain, were held, wherein industrialists and scientists presented their views on various aspects of food processing.
 
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