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Ambani to set up 5 agro-processing units in Punjab
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
Mr Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries will set up five units each worth Rs 250 crore in the first phase in Punjab to process and market durum wheat and vegetables for export. He will start setting up the units on December 28, it is learnt.

Mr Ambani, who had recently informed the Punjab Government that he would invest Rs 5,000 crore in the state in the agricultural sector, is keen on exporting food items made from durum wheat from Punjab.

Durum wheat is grown in Russia, Africa and certain parts of Central America. Owing to its high gluten content, this wheat is used to manufacture bread, pasta and other eatables. In Punjab it is grown in the Samrala belt, but not on an extensive area. It can be grown in more areas of the state, say experts.

Sources said that Mr Ambani did not want any assistance from the state government except helping him identify suitable places for setting up his units. He wanted to buy the required land direct from farmers. The state government wants that Mr Ambani should set up his units in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Ferozepore, Bathinda and Amritsar.

It is reported that the team constituted by Mr Ambani to set up the units in Punjab is in touch with senior officers of the Punjab Agriculture Department and Punjab Agro. The sources said that senior members of the team held a meeting with Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary, who looks after the Agriculture Department, in Delhi a few days ago.

Although Mr Ambani's team has not revealed full details of the project yet, the sources said it would enter into a "buy-back" arrangement with farmers, who would agree to grow wheat and vegetables conforming to the specifications fixed by experts appointed by it.

There is great potential for exporting green vegetables from Punjab to Central Asia and European countries.

There are a large number of farmers who grow vegetables in Punjab. They have developed their own marketing system. However, the arrival of Mr Ambani in Punjab will help them grow quality vegetables fit for export. At present, there are a number of farmers in the Morinda-Samrala-Ludhiana belt who sell cabbage direct to big hotels and fast- food chains.

Mr Parminder Singh, general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said the project would help small and marginal farmers, who could not afford to make heavy investments in traditional crops. Such farmers could form cooperative societies to grow and sell vegetables to Ambani industries, he added. 


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