Friday, July 20, 2012



"Rise in number of landless farmers, shortage of farm labour, abrupt climate change, use of un-prescribed pesticides and spurious chemicals by farmers, soil nutrient profile, quality of water, prices of competing products and products in local markets, poor crop knowledge among farmers, lack of appropriate cultivars and cold chains and availability of seeds, pesticides and fertilizers are some of the agricultural challenges being faced in the contemporary scenario." These views were expressed by Mr. Sameer Sachdeva, Head, Export Business, Field Fresh, while delivering his talk on "Accessing the fresh produce export market, building export oriented supply chains: Learning and Opportunities" at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) here today. The seminar was organized by Society for Advancement of Academics, Sports and Cultural Activities (SAASCA), PAU. The PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Registrar, Dr R. K. Mahey, deans, directors, additional directors, heads and faculty of various departments of PAU attended the seminar.

Appreciating the thought–provoking lecture of Mr Sachdeva, Dr Dhillon laid thrust on research on new extension measures and human resource development with focus on good-agri-practices. The special emphasis of PAU is on contributing more to the agriculture stakeholders, he said, while evincing interest in strengthening partnership with the industry for the farmers' benefit. He said that making plant breeding for mechanized farming, carrying out climate change studies, use of crop biomass for bio-energy, etc. were priority areas at PAU. Dr. Dhillon emphasized that research on new extension methods was needed to fasten the pace of technology transfer to farmers. He described the expert talk by Mr. Sachdeva as \'Sensitizing\'.

Mr Sachdeva said that Field Fresh aims at utilizing sustainable agri-practices for enhancing productivity, quality and profitability. While discussing challenges such as cost and prices, marketing and supply chain, he pointed out that product demand, retailer margins, domestic marketing, cost prohibitive cold chains, cost, packaging and air freight costs, escalating input costs are some of the limitations being confronted presently. He emphasized on the use of right inputs at right time, regular crop monitoring and need-based farmer training and exposure to technology. Mr Sachdeva underlined the need to create an online soil and water nutrient map of Punjab, strengthen soil and water testing capabilities and understand pesticide usage regimes as per their waiting period on crops and proper harvest interval of crops, for efficient production system. Besides, he stressed on extensive mapping and creation of online database of beneficial insects and their multiplication techniques, improving harvesting economics, increase of mechanization in vegetable farming and weed reduction and control practices. The Field Fresh has multiple engagements with the PAU and Dutch Council of Agricultural Colleges, he said, while dwelling upon the focused crops of other countries such as baby corn of Thailand, asparagus of Peru, beans and legumes of Kenya, papaya, citrus and sugarcane of Brazil, pineapple of Hawaii and apples and grapes on Chile. There is a huge demand for baby corn round the year in United Kingdom and that it is a source of additional income for farmers, he told. The chilies products meet the European Union (EU) regulation, he said adding that there exists a potential for export of herbs including coriander, thyme and mint from Punjab.

Earlier, Dr R.S. Sidhu, Dean, College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, welcomed the speaker and participants. He said that PAU is having excellent linkages with the farmers but seeks to strengthen it with the industry. The speaker answered all the queries of the participants during the interactive session. Dr Dhillon honoured Mr Sachdeva with a memento while the Additional Director of Research (NRM), Dr. T.S.Thind thanked the speaker, dignitaries and participants. The talk of Mr Sachdeva, highlighting marketing strategies and the issues pertaining to export of fruit and vegetable crops, will be helpful in reorienting the PAU research programmes, he noted.
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