Punjab’s long wait for its own food park came to an end on Thursday after Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) giant Indian Tobacco Company (ITC) started the operations of new state-of-the-art Integrated food manufacturing and logistics facility at Kapurthala.
After missing several deadlines during past two years, ITC food park, spread over 72 acres of land, will manufacture its popular brand such as ‘Aashirvaad’, ‘Bingo!’, ‘Sunfeast’, ‘YiPPee!’ and ‘B Natural’, among others. While inaugurating the project in Kapurthala, Chief Minister Amarider Singh said besides supporting the farmers, the project will help generate employment in the state.
The CM said such projects would be instrumental not only in saving the state’s crunched fertile land and water resources but also in boosting farm income. Referring to the plight of potato farmers, who were forced to dump their produce on the roads because of their inability to sell it at a good price, Amarinder stressed the need to end the crisis with projects like ITC.
He pointed out the ITC project would bring new seeds and techniques that would enable the farmers to produce potatoes that would find a ready market. The CM said the new food plant would purchase wheat potatoes and other crops from the region while helping the state to generate the much-needed revenue.
Earlier, dedicating the facility to the people of Punjab, ITC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sanjiv Puri said ITC was present across various sectors, from agriculture to manufacturing and services.
He said, the company would make the most of the new industrial policy to expand it in Punjab. He added the facility will create large-scale livelihoods across the sustainable agri-value chains. “It will add significant value to the State’s agricultural potential as the food processing sector. It can make a multi-dimensional contribution to the state’s economy by enhancing the competitiveness of the food value chain”, he said.
Meanwhile, Kapurthala legislator and State power minister Rana Gurjit Singh said the government was striving to create employment avenues in the state. The minister said the Mandi (grain market) in the ITC facility will facilitate mechanical cleaning of grains.
This is the third of the five plants ITC is setting up in the complex, with the remaining two also expected to become operational by March, 2018. Once completed, the entire facility will be spread over 1.5 million square feet area, making it the largest in the country.
It is pertinent to mention that in March 2014, the Punjab government had decided to allot 62 acres of land to ITC after the former Punjab deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal handed over a letter of intent to the company.