Though the Punjab government's efforts at bringing the peasantry of the state out of the vicious cycle of wheat-paddy production are yet to deliver results, PepsiCo Tropicana and PAGREXCO Citrus Development Programme have emerged as one of the successful public-private partnership models in the Indian agri-business to meet the purpose of diversification.
The programme that stemmed from the mutually beneficial needs of the Punjab government and PepsiCo India, if everything goes well, is set to bring "orange revolution in the state by bringing more than 35,000 acres under citrus cultivation by 2008".
"For PepsiCo, the citrus project was part of its efforts to create a localised supply base for citrus juice under the brand Tropicana. PepsiCo was also interested in exploring the export potential of the local produce," a PepsiCo official said.
PepsiCo was providing saplings and by the end of the year, 10,000 acres were expected to be under citrus cultivation, he said.
"By 2008, our capacity would grow to 4 million saplings annually enabling 35,000 acre to be brought under citrus plantation every year. The farmers can choose from 16 rootstock varieties and 32 citrus scion varieties of orange."
"The state government played a key role in facilitating us for creating nursery infrastructure, importing the germplasm and making land available for demonstration plots at multiple locations," he added.
The environmental benefits of citrus cultivation add to the appeal of this initiative as citrus cultivation requires less water and electricity compared with other crops such as paddy, said the spokesperson.
"The usage of fertiliser and other chemicals is also lower for citrus, which ensures that soil and water pollution is minimised. We are also helping farmers learn latest techniques and services to ensure high citrus yields," he added.
"We also help farmers earn much higher income as compared to the normal wheat and paddy cultivation."