Food processing industry and crop diversification are facing several challenges in Punjab. “Inadequate availability of raw material, inadequate post-harvest infrastructure, inadequate research and development by processing industry, fragmented value chains and policy distortions are some of the challenges that food processing industry is facing in the state,”claimed Dr. B.S. Dhillon PAU vice-chancellor .
Dhillon was speaking during the inaugural session of Punjab AgriFood Conclave held at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Ludhiana.
He said that PAU has been continuously developing latest food processing techniques to promote cultivation of fruits and vegetables but the real challenge lies in their adoption by farmers and other stakeholders. “We are developing several techniques to promote crop diversification so that farmers come out of wheat-paddy cycle. But the real challenge is their adoption. Not many farmers are adopting them because it is difficult for them to come out of wheat-paddy cycle as still there are many challenges. On one hand we are asked to push crop diversification and at the same time, we are given the wheat and paddy production cultivation targets to be met each year. So how can we expect that farmers will abandon wheat-paddy,” said Vice Chancellor.
The assembly was inaugurated by Punjab industry and commerce minister Sham Sunder Arora who said that Punjab which till now is known as ‘Food Bowl of India’ will soon be known as ‘Food Processing Hub of India’ too.
“Soon Punjab will be the food processing hub of the country. From the largest producer, it will be the largest processor too. A high tech manufacturing cluster at Ludhiana and an integrated manufacturing cluster is being built at Rajpura apart from three mega food parks at Ladhowal, Phagwara and Fazilka. Punjab has total cultivable area of 4.2 million hectares. It produces 19 per cent of wheat in India, 10 per cent rice, 10 per cent milk, 20 per cent honey, 48 per cent mushroom and 5 per cent cotton with just 3 per cent of net sown area in the country,” he said.