By Vijay C Roy
Fruits and vegetables cultivation in Punjab is likely to get a shot in the arm with the setting up five pack-houses for grading, sorting, packaging agricultural and horticultural products in the state.
The projects, entrusted to Blue Star Ltd by the Punjab Agri Export Corporation Ltd, better known as PAGREXO, is likely to be commissioned by this month.
Each pack-house will spread over half an acre and would act as collection centre for fruits and vegetables.
Besides, it would have mechanical grading and sorting line, pre-cooling chamber, cold storage, a reefer van and a pick up van.The total project cost for the project was Rs 5 crore.
Speaking to Business Standard, senior officials in PAGREXO said, “Earlier, we have selected Blue Star Ltd for setting up five pack houses across the state namely at Mushkabad (Ludhiana), Saholi & Lalgarh (Patiala), Kangmai(Hoshiarpur) and Babri(Gurdaspur), after floating tenders for the project. All the five pack houses are almost ready and will be commissioned by the end of this month.”
It is worth mentioning that the state government had got nod from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority(APEDA) for setting up five pack houses and a grant of Rs 5.35 crore as the cost of the project.
The sites for the location of fruit and vegetable pack house centres was identified based on the progressive growers in the area, area under cultivation, potential for increase in area under fruits and vegetables, access to markets and efforts made towards distant marketing and exports.
According to officials, the farmers in these locations are already marketing their produce in the neighboring market yards or supplying to the retail chains located close to the growing areas but because of lack of proper transport arrangements, they are unable to sell their produce to the distant markets. It is worth noting that during the last few years, area & production of fruits and vegetables in Punjab is increasing continuously. The production of fruits which was 10.55 lakh metric tonnes during 2007-08, increased to 11.83 lakh metric tonnes in 2008-09 and to 13.65 lakh metric tonnes in 2009-10. Further in 2010-11, it touched 13.73 lakh metric tonnes. Similarly, the production of vegetables which was 25.36 lakh metric tonnes during 2007-08 increased to 27.93 lakh metric tonnes in 2007-08 and to 34.10 lakh metric tonnes in 2008-09.
Also, on the lines of these pack houses, the state government further has plans to set up five more pack houses in the state. The states intends to set up Pack Houses at Bring Mohanpura (Tarntaran), Sandhwan (Faridkot), Malerkotla (Sangrur), Shahkot (Jallandhar), Sultanpur Lodhi (Kapurthala).
PAGREXO, is a company jointly owned by Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Limited and Punjab Mandi Board with equal partcipation and engaged in the development of infrastructure and promotion of distant domestic and export marketing of fresh fruits, vegetables and processed products.