While most Punjab farmers remain in the wheat and paddy cultivation cycle, Jagwant Singh Rai (45) of Sangrur’s Narike Khurd village has shown them how there’s profit outside, in fields such as food-processing.
His ready-to-cook ‘tadka’ developed more than two years ago is getting popular with housewives, eating joints, and hotels; and making waves internationally. He took the idea from an international food exhibition in Delhi a few years ago and followed it up with training at guidance at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).
Like most farmers in Punjab, he has sufficient land to grow wheat and paddy. “But I always wanted an additional source of income. At the Delhi food exhibition, I was left captivated to notice how several farmers and food-processing experts had combined to make innovative products. It motivated me to commercialise my homemade ‘tadka’. I knew it will be a hit, as no one wants to stay a long time in the kitchen these days,” said Rai, developer of ‘Pure Punjabi Tadka’ by New Era Products. The secret of its success — no artificial colours or chemicals, besides proper hygiene during preparation.
Rai, who holds a master’s degree in social work, is grateful to the PAU experts who taught him packaging, labelling and marketing skills. Selling 250-gram packets gives him an extra Rs 20,000 every month. “Regular farmers earn only during the procurement season but food-processing is income all year,” he said.
In the wedding season, the demand peaks to 500 packets a week, and he has to increase production. This year National Small Industrial Corporation (NSIC) selected him for the international food expo in Istanbul, Turkey, where he made a huge profit by selling his ‘tadka’. “It was my first international exposure. The customers were from all parts of the world, and they all found my product creative.” said Rai.
Last year, he received the innovative farmer award at the PAU’s Kisan Mela. His message to the farming community: “Don’t waste time criticising the government. Start exploring opportunities to supplement your income. There are opportunities all around that young farmers who don’t want to work hard do not see.”