R. Chandrakanth

Trials have started in Haveri district

  • Haveri chosen because of its high maize yield
  • The annual production last year was 2.21 lakh tonnes

    Bangalore: Pepsico India Holdings is looking at the State for large-scale contract farming in maize, chillies and tomatoes, for which it has commenced trials in Haveri district.

    Although these trials are on a small scale, the company is said to be looking at nearly 20,000 hectares of contract farming in maize to fall in place by next year in Haveri and neighbouring districts.

    Pre-agreed price

    It is now running on a trial basis "pre-agreed price" system of farming through local aggregators (local people who deal with the farmers on behalf of the company) and the results should be known by early next year.

    "It has to be a win-win situation for both Pepsi and the farmers for the contract farming plan to materialise," says Abhiram Seth, Executive Director, Pepsico India Holdings.

    Successful in Punjab

    Mr. Seth told The Hindu that trial runs normally would be for a year before Pepsi can embark upon contract farming here. The company, which is enthused by the success in Punjab where it has contract farming in chillies, potatoes and basmati, finds the situation in Karnataka conducive for contract farming.

    "We need to study a whole lot of parameters such as agro-climatic conditions, marketing, policies and so on before we set off on a project," he says. The State Government has been helpful and there are no impediments from any quarter, Mr. Seth adds.

    `Export plans later'

    Although the company has not firmed up any plans, Mr. Seth says that Pepsi will be concentrating on maize and later think of exporting.

    Pepsi is looking at Haveri district as the maize yield in a hectare of land there is 3.5 tonnes, higher than the national average of two metric tonnes. It is said that maize is grown on about 80,000 hectares of land in the district with two crops a year.

    Sources say that the annual production last year stood at 2.21 lakh metric tonnes.

    With contract farming, there could be improvement in the yield levels as the company will be doing "hand-holding" and providing technology, good cropping practices and marketing inputs.

    Better price for farmers

    Farmers will get a better price and can avoid the market with all its fluctuations, they say.

    According to a company source, as of now, the local aggregator and the farmer determine the price. For the farmer, it works out well as he has a ready market and gets cash on the spot. We are studying how this works." Pepsi is keen on harnessing the agriculture/horticulture potential in these areas.

    Of late, the belt of Chitradurga, Davangere, Haveri, Bellary and Belgaum has seen a sudden increase in maize cultivation.

    According to the statistics provided by the Agriculture Department, Davangere had an yield of 7.9 lakh tonnes, followed by Belgaum with 3.37 lakh tonnes, Haveri 2.21 lakh tonnes, Chitradurga 1.88 lakh tonnes, and Bellary 1.41 lakh tonnes.