Guwahati: “Never give up” was the message of Kahlon Farms owned by Indian American Raj Kahlon at Merced, near San Francisco, California, to the farming community of Sikkim.

The Sikkim Agriculture Department delegation, led by Minister for Agriculture Lok Nath Sharma, visited the Kahlon farms in California on May 7.

Rajesh N. Naik, Deputy Consul General, Consulate General of India, San Francisco, California, also accompanied the delegation to Merced for the farm visit.

Kahlon started his journey in the early 1990s when he migrated from Punjab and started farming with only 50 acres of land taken on lease. Today, after 30 years, he is the owner of RHM farms, with a whopping 10,000 acres of pistachio, almond, and walnut farms. About 7,000 acres are under pistachio crop cultivation.  

During the discussion, Naik said the demand for organic commodities in the US is increasing and Sikkim, with its unique products, can find suitable markets. It was also informed that Sikkim sought interventions and investments in the areas of marketing of organic commodities apart from health, education, and tourism sectors.

Crops that are grown in Sikkim such as turmeric and ginger have a huge market in the US and the farmers must produce such commodities for export to the US, he said. 

Kahlon also indicated the possibility of a student-exchange programme for learning about pistachio, almond, and walnut cultivation and processing from Sikkim, and said he will provide details of the same after consultation with Merced College, University of California, Merced. 

Kahlon also expressed his willingness to implement ‘hot house technology’ in Sikkim, a technology similar to greenhouse technology where the temperature is artificially controlled for the production of crops, which can help crop production year-round. 

He also put up the idea of Sikkim taking up an ‘exotic’ horse breeding programme for international clients such as Austria, Spain, and others.

Wishing to give back to the community in which he has thrived as a pistachio and almond farmer, Kahlon has donated $ 5 million to support the agricultural programmes at Merced College for the construction of a 30,000 sq ft agriculture and industrial technology complex.

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