Satara (Maharashtra): Global beverages and snacks major PepsiCo is looking to enhance potato procurement through its tie up with farmers by around 20 percent to 65 percent in India in the next five years.
The company aims to strengthen regions where it is already working with the farmers and also entering new geographies in the country.
PepsiCo which works with around 24,000 farmers across nine states under collaborative farming model, procures around 45 percent of its current total requirement of 2.40 lakh tonnes of potato per annum by working with farmers and the rest 55 percent from the open market.
"We expect the share of potato procurement through the collaborative farming to go up to around 65 percent from the current 45 percent in the next five years," PepsiCo India Senior Director - Operations (Foods) Rajiv Wakhle told PTI here.
He added that the company is looking to strengthen the existing regions where it is working with farmers and is also eyeing entering new geographies in the next few years.
PepsiCo India currently works with farmers across various states including Punjab, Maharashtra and West Bengal, to procure agri-products from them. It utilises potatoes for various brands under food business like Lay's and Uncle Chips.
Under its collaborative farming programme, the company provides technical and financial support to farmers, which includes tie-up with banks and insurance firms.
The firm assures buy back of the farm produce at pre- agreed prices from cultivators thus helping them insulate from market price fluctuations besides ensuring stable income.
On the company's collaborative farming in Maharashtra, Wakhle said around 3,500 farmers work with the company across Pune, Satara and sangli, covering over 6,500 acres of land.
"In Satara, where major challenge is erratic rainfall, we have been able to put 1,600 acres of farm land under drip irrigation for cultivation of potato. This is an eight-fold increase as compared to 200 acres under drip irrigation in 2009," PepsiCo India Vice President-Agro Jaideep Bhatia said.
These 1600 acres constitute more than 50 percent of the total area under drip irrigation supported by the company in the country, he added.
Commenting on the benefits of drip irrigation, Bhatia said the methodology has helped the company save more than 1.5 billion litres of water in India since 2009.
"Over 400 acres of land in Satara, which was earlier not under cultivation due to a variety of reasons including water scarcity and rocky terrain, is now being used for potato collaborative farming," Wakhle said.
The company works with farmers throughout the crop lifecycle and this includes the supply of planting material, offering plant protection programme and assistance in securing soft loans under collaborative farming model, he added.