Punjab has made major strides in increasing the yield of agriculture over the past few decades, however the income of the small farmers did not increase as per their expectations. Small units of farmers at village level can play an important role in increasing the overall income of the farmers as well as employment opportunities by increasing the quality of crops. This can be done by processing the crops. According to a census, in developed countries 14% of the total agriculture work force is connected directly or indirectly with food processing but in India this is only 3%. Hence there are a lot of opportunities in this area. Well-developed small units at village level can contribute a lot to the economy of villages in Punjab. Units for dried substances, oil extraction units, flour mills, jaggery, spices pickles, milk and milk products can be established. There is a huge demand for such products all around especially in the cities. Income of these units can be increased by the use of low cost modern machines for processing and if the farmers participate in this field with interest, there are lots of opportunities available for them.
11 farmers from the village Burj Dhilwan, District Mansa decided to unite and made “Farmer Produce Processing and Marketing Society” and got it registered from the Agricultural Technology Management Agency. The group initially started with processing of turmeric and red chilli powder. Two members took training for food processing from PAU, Ludhiana. Members of this group also learned to make detergent and different ways in which gram flour can be used from Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Mansa. Amongst other skills learnt was that of making masala for buttermilk. Presently they make masala for buttermilk, turmeric powder, garam masala, red chilli powder, lassi masala, gram flour snacks, roasted grams, honey and detergent.
In 2003, the group started making its own products and also made marketing strategy for selling them. Initially they faced many problems as they were not aware of marketing techniques. Then they were inspired by Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Mansa to exhibit their products during Kisan Mela’s, so they can reach out to wider audience. They first participated in Kisan Mela in September 2013 and started marketing their products. Once they got the necessary exposure, they opened a shop in their village for selling their products. They also started marketing and selling their products in cooperative gatherings in villages. In 2014, the demand for their products increased and they started proper packaging of their products and also got FSSAI number.
The group was honoured by the Vice-Chancellor of PAU in Learners Conference and Awards Ceremony. The group was also honoured by Dr. P S Aulakh at Field Day. They have now employed a worker on a pay of Rs 9000 per month for making different products.