The One Day Agri and Food Conclave Held at PAU
While inaugurating the one-day Agri and Food Conclave at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Minister for Industries and Commerce, Punjab, Sh Sunder Sham Arora said, “Punjab is a samrat (crowned head) of agriculture.” Industrialists, entrepreneurs, farmers and faculty of PAU attended the inaugural session of the conclave which was jointly organized by the Department of Industries and Commerce, Punjab; Confederation of Indian Industry; and Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.
The Minister said Punjab with total cultivable area of 4.2 million hectares 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 5 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 divulged. Providing employment opportunities will finish the drug menace in Punjab, he added.
Saluting PAU for its remarkable contribution to the food security of the nation, he stated there is a lot to learn from this University. He disclosed that subsidiary occupations (27.38%) 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, he said, while highlighting the schemes of the department.
Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, while giving presentation on “Academia-Industry Interface,” 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. Dr Dhillon called for developing strong linkages between PAU and industry for strengthening of food processing sector. He also acquainted the gathering with the Food Industry Business Incubation Centre at PAU.
Mr R.K. Verma, Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce and Information Technology, Punjab, said transforming the state from food bowl to food processing hub of India is important to create job opportunities in rural areas, increase farmer’s income 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.
Mr 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.
Mr Rinkesh Satija, Head-Agro, PepsiCo India Holding (P) Limited, said the need of the hour is to provide cold storage infrastructure, promote micro irrigation, develop varieties for potato processing, and promote mechanization.
Mr Bhavdeep Sardana, Senior Vice-President and Chief Executive Officer of The Sukhjit Starch and Chemicals Limited, said government’s thrust on food processing in industrial policy is 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 on “Integration of food chain-Key to diversification.”
Mr Akshay Bector, Chairman and Managing Director, Cremica Food Industries Limited, said, “We need to look forward to value added farming and for this mechanization of the practices will be helpful.” Higher productivity and enhancement in the income of the farmers in food processing should be the focus area, he suggested.
Earlier, Dr Sandeep Kapur, Professor, School of Business Studies, PAU, welcomed the chief guest, other dignitaries, industrialists, entrepreneurs, farmers, and faculty of the University.
Later, Mr DPS Kharbanda, Director, Industries and Commerce, Punjab, proposed the vote of thanks.
During the conclave, Mr Vikas Garg, Managing Director, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Limited, spoke on “State Public Sector Undertakings- Leading the Food Revolution” while Dr Atya Nand, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, 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 Department of Industries and Commerce, Punjab; and the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. In addition, 25 MoUs were inked with MSMEs. Two technical sessions were held on “Opportunities and Challenges in Food Sector” and “Developing Linkages in Food Chain” wherein industrialists and scientists presented their views on various aspects of food processing.
Mr Verma honoured the chief guest with a memento while later, the chief guest honoured the VC and the other industrialists.