Punjab farmers to cultivate in Ethiopia,import output to India

"We will start cultivating 5,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia from September this year and plan to cultivate pulses, oilseeds, sugarcane and maize which are always in short supply (in India)," Confederation of Potato Seed Farmers (Poscon) Secretary General Jang Bahadur Singh Sangha said here today.

Additionally, the group wants the government to exempt their farm produce in Ethiopia from duty when imported to India in order to curtail country's dependence on import of such farm products.

"By bringing crops like pulses, oilseeds to India, we will help the country in making it self sufficient in these crops and ensure food security," Sangha asserted. They also want either the Union Minister of Agriculture or Ministry of External Affairs to support them in this endeavour by patronising the farming agreements.

Citing farming in Ethiopia as a 'workable' venture, 15 members of Poscon, the representative body of the state's potato growers, have shown keen interest in cultivating land there he added.

Sangha said, "I have already visited Ethiopia twice along with other members of our association and found huge tracts of land available in there. Farming conditions (in Ethiopia) are also similar to what we have in India."

Also, availability of land in Ethopia at much cheaper cost than in India encouraged farmers to cultivate the land in Ethiopia. "Land is available for farming on lease of 25 to 45 years period. Moreover, in Ethiopia, the cost of land on lease is Rs 500 per hectare, while in Punjab the cost varies between Rs 25,000-30,000 per hectare," he added.

Farmers have zeroed in on a few African areas, including Gambela and Oromia, for cultivating land. Moreover, the Ethiopian government has promised to support farming by Indian farmers in every manner.

Last year, Ministry of External Affairs had arranged a meeting of representatives of several African countries, including Ethiopia, Uganada, Zambia, and Tanzania with Punjab farmers and these countries invited them to develop land and invest in agriculture.

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