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Leading players in the agro industry on Friday batted for providing value addition to the agricultural produce of farmers in Punjab in order to ensure remunerative returns for them.
The consensus on the issue emerged during the session, 'Agri and Food Processing Session-Punjab: Value Addition to Agri Economy' on the second and last day of the Progressive Punjab Investor Summit - 2019 here.
Delegates also underscored the need to lay special focus on the processing of fruits, vegetables and meats, besides developing logistics and 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, a memorandum of understanding 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 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 and treated waste water for irrigation.
Outlining the strengths of the state's agriculture sector, Khanna said that Punjab was the sixth largest milk producer in India, with 32.5 million litres daily production.
It ranked second in Mandarin orange (kinnow) accounting for 24 per cent of the country's total production, as well as third in Honey accounting for 15 percent of the total production and 21 per cent of the total honey exports from India.
Khanna said Punjab had an extensive network of infrastructure, production, storage and marketing, with dedicated research centres like PAU and fruit research stations.
He invited the private players to explore the tremendous opportunities offered by the state to develop the agro industry, and to forge collaborations with PAU for research.
The technical session was moderated by the Chairman, Punjab State Farmers' Commission, Ajay Vir Jakhar.
The panellists included CEO Godrej Tyson Foods Prashant Vatkar, Managing Director CN IFFCO Inigo Anton, Head of Finance, Food Division, ITC, Neel Kingston and agriculture scientist Prabhakar Rao.
Jakhar advocated improvement in India-Pakistan relations, which would ultimately benefit the Punjabi farmers and facilitate export of their agricultural produce like fruits, vegetables and dairy products to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kazakhstan.
Kingston said that since Punjab alone was contributing seven per cent of the country's milk share and six per cent of egg production, it should be developed as the 'protein source of the country'.