This has India looking for new ways to store, handle and deliver grain and pulse crops, as current storage systems aren’t working.
“A lot of the lentils and crops produced are stored and handled in burlap sacks right now and there’s a huge loss of their current crop,” said Adam Smith, marketing and trade officer with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Saskatchewan branch.
This is where Saskatchewan comes into the equation. Companies who specialize in grain storage are looking to expand halfway around the world. One of these is Willwood Industries based out of Kronau, about a half hour southeast of Regina.
Willwood Industries is a family-owned business run by Linda Yablonski. She went on a trade mission to India last year and wants to set up a company overseas.
“We’re going to be an advisor and maybe we’ll be 20 per cent of the company,” said Yablonkski. “It’s definitely a joint-venture.”
She said during her trip to India, she noticed that farming has not evolved to keep with the times, although there have been strides in other areas.
“They really have focused a lot on technology (with) thousands and millions of dollars and people going to university, but they’ve never spent any money on agriculture. They’re still hauling 50 pound bags on their shoulders.”
This type of practice is not sustainable, especially as India’s population skyrockets.
“India is unique, because every year, there is a new group of people entering the middle class which is equal to the entire population of Canada,” said O’Conner.
More than 20 Indian business and government representatives will be coming to Saskatchewan for the Farm Progress Show in June – the largest delegation from India to ever come to the show.
Saskatchewan exports more to India than any other province, but these delegates won’t just be looking to buy our crops. They want to figure out how to have better harvests. Last year, India harvested around 500-600 pounds of pulse crops per acre compared to Saskatchewan’s 1,923 pounds per acre.
“They’re only doing a third of the production as we are and they can do it twice a year – where we only do it once. So, they’ve got a great potential when they learn how to use our farming practices to increase their own output,” said O’Conner.