The three-day 11th CII Agro-Tech fair was inaugurated at Sector 17 Parade Ground on Saturday. Display of exotic vegetables and hybrid seeds for these vegetables at various stalls attracted a huge crowd.
In all, 162 exhibitors are participating in the fair including 36 international exhibitors. While the host states are Punjab and Haryana, the fair is focussing on Uttarakhand with participation of Uttar Pradesh. Over 50,000 farmers and other visitors are expected to visit the fair.
As many as 10 countries including Canada, Italy, Israel, Germany, Spain, France, Poland, South Africa, The Netherlands, Russia and South Africa are participating in the fair. South Africa is part of the event for the first time. Its stall displayed resins, pickles and fruits juices. Afeena Ashfaque, the secretary-agricultural affairs is heading the stall. An attendant said, “We are here seeking collaboration of distributors for selling our products.”
With the growing popularity of Thai and Continental cuisines, demand for vegetables such as red and yellow bell peppers, zucchini lettuce, parsley, broccoli, babycorn, red cabbage, avocados, etc. has also increased substantially, said a farmer who grows exotic vegetables.
“We have displayed a variety of vegetables which are in great demand. In the last decade there has been a 50 per cent increase in the demand of exotic vegetables,” said Rahul Mahajan of Durga seeds store, based in Chandigarh. He added that while some vegetables are being grown here with the use of hybrid seeds, vegetables like avocados are being exported from Thailand. “This is the sixth time we are participating in the fair. Demand for these vegetables and hybrid seeds is growing by each year,” said Mahajan.
Another such stall was of Kalash Seeds Private limited. Avtar Singh Gill of Kalash Seeds said, “We grow these vegetables and send them across UT, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, etc.” The seeds on sale include hybrid varieties of spring-onion and garlic, lady’s finger, onions, peppers, watermelon, melons, etc.
While most stalls showcasing exotic vegetables were big, Abdul Majeed Wani was seen sitting in a small stall and explaining visitors about the benefits of saffron (Kesar). This is Wani’s third visit to the fair. In an empty stall he was sitting with tiny boxes of saffron, two bowls showing how processed and unprocessed saffron looks like and how it changes colour if put in water. “Due to the floods this year, we could only produce 1.5 tonnes, 2 per cent of the normal yield. All our crop was destroyed,” he said.
Girdhari Singh and Khar Singh, both retired Punjab Roadways employees and now farmers said, “There are many new things in the fair. The exotic seeds seem interesting. We may buy some of these to try and see how the market responds.”
Participation of major agricultural states such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu was also seen. The Maharashtra Agricultural Competitiveness Project (MACP) displayed a detailed model of cooperative farming.
Dr Sanjay Pandhare, the monitoring officer of the projects said, “Only Maharashtra and Rajasthan governments have started this project. We are lagging a little but are hoping that the project will be fully functional by 2016 end.” Explaining the project, he said, “The aim of the project is to rope in small scale framers to an industry where they can grow, process and sell their crops, all by themselves.”