Zephyr Peacock backed potato seeds company, Utkal Tubers, has announced the appointment of Vinod Bhat, an industry veteran as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
With this appointment, the lab-to-land innovation company engaged in potato research, cultivation and marketing, is moving a step closer to its vision of improving India’s agricultural yield. Utkal Tubers is committed to innovate and promote sustainable agriculture and improve farmer income.
“Agriculture, with its allied sectors, is the largest source of livelihood in India. A majority of the country’s rural households depend on agriculture to earn a living, but the yield is one of the lowest in the world. The sector needs a tech makeover to improve productivity. Utkal has worked with stakeholders including the farmers, researchers and leading agencies across the world to enhance efficiencies in potato production. I am excited to join this team and look forward to helping them deliver their full potential. I believe Utkal can revolutionize potato farming in India,” said Vinod Bhat, CEO, Utkal Tubers.
"We are thrilled to see how Utkalhasgrown and transformed over the past few years. The company continues to innovate to improve agricultural yield and improve farmer income in India. Utkal is on a mission to solve India’s food problems through research driven innovations and we are excited to partner with them in their journey," said Abhijeet Kudva, Managing Director, Zephyr Peacock India.
Potato yields in India are only half the global average and over a million farmers are engaged in potato farming in the country. Vinod will support Utkal’s journey of developing and cultivating high-yield disease-resistant seed potatoes in regions where seed potatoes were not previously cultivated. Access to quality seeds locally will help farmers avoid transport costs and reduce wastage.
In 2019, Utkal produced 3,500 tons of high-yielding disease-resistant potato seeds across 315 acres of farmland in India. In the last few years Utkal has successfully established its sales and distribution network across the country, mainly in states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Punjab. Over the next three years, Utkal plans to ramp up annual production to 50,000 tons of high-yielding, disease-resistant seed potatoes across Gujarat, Assam, Punjab, Uttar Pradesutkal h, Haryana and Karnataka. Utkal has imported 15 varieties of high-yielding, disease-resistant seed potatoes in exclusive partnership with IPM Potato Group Limited (IPM), a leading European potato company. The seeds have proven to thrive in harsher climates, such as in India, and Utkal has commenced trials for the imported varieties in the country.
Vinod has led major food & agri companies across India. He has developed and implemented successful business strategies for multiple startups, and for corporates including Ankur Agrilinks, MTR Foods, Cavinkare and Reliance Retail.
As CEO, Vinod Bhat will be responsible for the overall leadership of Utkal. His experience will build on the company’s solid foundation as a pioneer in potato seed innovation, through fresh strategic and technological initiatives.