Italy has pasta designs on Punjab
Chandigarh: The launch of Amritsar to Italy direct flight on Sunday could very well be a sign of bigger things to come. It so appears, Italy is not content with a direct airlink alone. It has bigger designs on Punjab — it has pasta designs. If all goes well, the land of Bhangra could well turn into a global hub for pasta industry. Keen on the prospect of setting up a state-of-the-art pasta-making units in the state, widely acclaimed for its agricultural prowess, Italians are eyeing government authorities, corporate honchos and the humble farmer to turn their fantastic idea into reality. “Punjab is rich in Durum wheat, the main ingredient used in pasta. This makes the state a natural choice for setting up pasta units here. It will entail huge cost saving for us and also give global leverage to the farmers,” Antonio Armellini, the Italian Ambassador to India, told TOI. Durum is a wheat variety rich in proteins, its yellow pigment and enzyme content make it an ideal component for a variety of food products, including pasta. The envoy’s assertations assume significance in the backdrop of the fact that a huge portion of the state’s produce is destroyed due to poor storage facilities. The Italian endeavour can change the fortunes of debt-ridden farmers here. Open to the idea of tying up with leading agro universities to frame the broad contours of pasta-making industry in the state, the envoy pointed out that India has already emerged as an outsourcing destination for IT industry and it is high time that another feather is added to its cap. “We want Punjab to be the pasta outsourcing hub in a way Bangalore is for the information technology industry. And transfer of technology will be a vital component of this cooperation,” he said. Incidentally, the production of pasta in the country is largely confined to the unorganised sectors and has very few organised players in the market. The entire output of the organised sector is estimated to be between 35,000-70,000 tonnes only. Besides, most of the pasta-processing plants are imported. The main dealers include Pavan (introduced in India in 1989 and is one of the oldest companies supplying machinery here), FEN, Anselmo, LB Italia, Pamex and Monotoni Trafile. Besides, Italy is also mulling the idea of transferring food-processing related technology so that Punjab can protect its produce and use it for export or domestic consumption