Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan offer land on lease to Punjabi farmers Jangveer Singh Tribune News Service Chandigarh, August 24 There seems to be a surfeit of choices for Punjabi farmers wishing to till land abroad with the Central Asian countries of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan now extending an invitation to lease out land to farmers of the state. African countries have wooed Punjabi farmers in the last four or five months with the ambassadors of several countries visiting Punjab to appeal to farmers as well as corporates to take up land in their countries. The Union Government is also facilitating land tie-ups in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal is accompanying Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on a visit to these countries from September 3 to 13. The Punjab Government is also set to explore land leasing opportunities for its farmers in Central Asian countries. Punjab Agro will take a delegation of seven or eight progressive farmers to a visit these countries in October. Giving details Punjab Agro Managing Director S K Sandhu told TNS that Uzbekistan and Kazakistan, which were offering land to Punjabi farmers, were only two or three hours away by plane. â€œThis is a unique advantage for Punjabi farmers,â€ he said, adding it would open up trade in fruit and vegetables also, an aspect that would also be explored by the delegation, which will be led by Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal. Sandhu said the delegation would visit Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. He said the team would explore the market for the export of fruit, vegetables, potato seed and basmati rice. He said it was felt that Punjabi farmers should try to bag a portion of the fruit and vegetable trade keeping in view the immense possibilities in the case of opening of the land route to these countries. Sandhu said in the meantime even airlifting could work out economically due to the short flight distance to these countries. Confederation of Potato and Seed Farmers Association representative Jang Bahadur Singh Sangha, who is also on the list of farmers scheduled to visit Central Asia, said government-backed initiatives to settle Punjabi farmers had a big chance of success. He said there was scope for selling potato seed also and that a market for the same could be established in the Central Asian countries. Sangha said his association members had already visited Ethiopia on the invitation of its government and evaluated the land on offer in the country. He said field research had also been conducted with the help of an agri- scientist and that now professional help was being taken to isolate the land to be taken up for cultivation. Sangha said Ethiopia was a good option for Punjabi farmers due to its good climate and corruption-free regime but that Latin American as well as Central Asian countries could also be good bets.