Punjab farmers to cultivate in Ethiopia,import output to India

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Chandigarh, Feb 14 (PTI) A group of Punjab-based farmerstoday said that they are going to grow pulses and oilseeds on5,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia and import their farmproduce to India.

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

Additionally, the group wants the government to exempttheir farm produce in Ethiopia from duty when imported toIndia in order to curtail country''s dependence on import ofsuch farm products.

"By bringing crops like pulses, oilseeds to India, wewill help the country in making it self sufficient in thesecrops and ensure food security," Sangha asserted.

They also want either the Union Minister of Agricultureor Ministry of External Affairs to support them in thisendeavour by patronising the farming agreements.

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

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

Also, availability of land in Ethopia at much cheapercost than in India encouraged farmers to cultivate the land inEthiopia.

"Land is available for farming on lease of 25 to 45 yearsperiod. Moreover, in Ethiopia, the cost of land on lease is Rs500 per hectare, while in Punjab the cost varies between Rs25,000-30,000 per hectare," he added.

Farmers have zeroed in on a few African areas, includingGambela and Oromia, for cultivating land.

Moreover, the Ethiopian government has promised tosupport farming by Indian farmers in every manner.

Last year, Ministry of External Affairs had arranged ameeting of representatives of several African countries,including Ethiopia, Uganada, Zambia, and Tanzania with Punjabfarmers and these countries invited them to develop land andinvest in agriculture.

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