Hailing from Batala in Punjab, Jagmohan Singh Nagi had a keen interest in agriculture and the food business from a young age. His father used to do flour mill repair work and wanted his son to work in the food industry.
Kulwant Nutrition, which started with one plant and maize crops in 1989, has grown into a company with an annual turnover of more than Rs 7 crore.
Jagmohan (63) is doing contract farming on 300 acres of land and grows crops like corn, mustard and wheat, and vegetables like carrot, cauliflower, tomato and beetroot.
He works with 300 farmers in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh and supplies produce to companies like PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, and Domino’s Pizza. He also exports his produce to England, New Zealand, Dubai and Hong Kong.
Creating a corn empire
“Before partition, my family used to stay in Karachi. My father then moved to Mumbai and finally settled in Punjab. At that time, in spite of the demand, there were very few people doing flour mill repair work. So, my father took it up,” says the agripreneur.
Jagmohan’s father wanted him to work in the food business. But, as there were no courses in Punjab then, he studied food cereal milling and engineering at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
After returning to India, he started an agribusiness, Kulwant Nutrition. The start was bumpy as he wasn’t able to get a good maize crop.
“I started a plant but we didn’t have a good maize crop in Punjab then. So I started ordering corn from Himachal Pradesh but the cost of transportation was very high. To get a good crop, we tied up with Punjab agricultural university through the university-industry link. The university would give farmers good quality seeds, and I would buy the produce from these farmers,” says the 63-year-old.
His first customer was Kellogg’s.
Wanting to grow the crop himself, Jagmohan started contract farming in 1991 and slowly started growing it all by himself.
In 1992, he started working with PepsiCo and supplied corn for their snack Kurkure. He says that he had a demand for almost 1000 tons of corn per month. In 1994, he started supplying Domino’s Pizza too. In 2013, he ventured into the canned foods business and started growing other vegetables too.
Pivoting his business in COVID
While his business was booming, the pandemic brought a host of challenges to this agripreneur.
“Covid really affected the supply chain. What I noticed was that while many factories and businesses shut down, grocery stores continued to run as they came under essential services. Therefore, I started focusing on grocery items like organic wheat flour and corn flour. To scale this up, I am also planning to start processing mustard oil and growing rice and chia seeds,” says Jagmohan.
He provides employment to 70 people through his company and free training to agriculture students and farmers. He helps farmers learn advanced methods of farming and teaches them how to sell their produce profitably.
“I have been working with Jagmohan for many years. He has taught me how to market my produce and turn them into value-added products. He says that instead of milk, it would be more profitable to convert it into ghee or curd. He is also buying items from me for his grocery business,” says Satbir Singh, a farmer.
Jaganmohan says, “To motivate the youth to farm, the government must provide incentives and promote agriculture-based businesses at a local level. They should also encourage food security and agriculture-based technologies.”
He also urges farmers to follow guidelines properly so that they get the desired results and don’t face losses.
“Farmers should choose crops that grow well in their area, instead of following trends. This will help them reap profits,” he says.
Edited by Pranita Bhat
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