Asish Puri is an associate partner with OC&C Strategy Consultants in India. With close to 13 years of management consulting experience, predominantly in consumer and building products, he has devised and implemented strategies for small, medium and large companies. Growth, diversification, and turnaround strategies are his core areas. He has assisted clients in India, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Europe. Asish is a commerce graduate with an MBA in Marketing.
Purnima Khandelwal is chief executive and co-founder of INI Farms. Purnima spearheads the global operations of the company, including branding, sales and marketing. She is the driving force behind India’s first ‘safe food’ brand, Kimaye, leading the entire gamut of brand building initiatives, from consumer insights to packaging innovations and distribution. As a co-founder of INI Consulting (started in 2003), Purnima has advised large private sector companies in agriculture, heavy engineering, electronics, infrastructure and chemicals. She has also worked with government organisations like Indian Railways and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
Manik Patil is president of the Maharashtra Grape Growers Association. After finishing his studies, Manik joined his family’s grape growing business in 1988. In 1993, he began exporting Indian grapes to the UK and he later ventured into wine making, establishing the partnership ND Wines. Manik has played a key role in introducing new table grape varieties to India, such as Fantasy Seedless and Crimson Seedless, which have gained strong acceptance among UK and European retailers. He has also served as secretary of the All India Grape Exporters Association. Manik holds a Bachelor of Science and a Masters in Business Administration.
Gunjan Jain is chief executive and managing director of VKC Nuts. He is tasked with spearheading growth in the company, which has been engaged in the trade of nuts and dried fruits since 1926. Gunjan took over the reins of the company in the mid 1990s, when it was still a small entity. He has helped VKC Nuts grow into India’s premier nuts and dried fruit company across imports, exports, processing, wholesale and modern retail. Gunjan is actively involved in promotional activities and works with various trade and affiliated bodies to increase the consumption of nuts, dried fruits and berries in India.
Akhilesh Bhargava is the managing director of AVI Global Plast India. AVI is one of the largest converters of rigid PVC and rigid PET films in India. Akhilesh has over 16 years of experience in the polymer, plastics and packaging industries. He is the chairman of the environment committee and anti-dumping duty investigations committee at the All India Plastics Manufacturers Association. He holds an MBA from Mumbai University with a major in finance.
Parth Karvat heads up global procurement for leading Indian importer-exporter Yupaa Group. He is actively involved in formulating and executing the group’s marketing strategies, and also oversees Yupaa’s packaging division of imported fruits. The son of Yupaa Group owners Yujita and Ambrish Karvat, Parth joined the business in 2009 after graduating university with a degree in commerce, specialising in business management. He also holds a post-graduate degree in family business management.
Ludvig Svensson (The Netherlands)
Maarten Oostenbrink is managing director of Ludvig Svensson, a global leader in climate screens. Svensson screens are designed to give growers more effective climate control: from solar reflection and light diffusion to shading and cooling. Ludvig Svensson is part of HortiTechIndia, a consortium of Dutch companies and knowledge institutes operating in the horticulture sector. The public-private partnership is working in India to help upgrade the country’s horticulture sector, with a particular focus on increasing vegetable growers’ yields and incomes.
Filip Fontaine is general manager of Belgian cooperative Belorta. As Belgium’s largest fruit and vegetable auctioneer, Belorta has a wide portfolio of fruit it markets domestically and internationally through its export partners. Filip has also served as an advisor on a number of auction projects in Shanghai since 2013. He is chairman of VDT, the association of fresh produce auction CEO’s in Belgium and the Netherlands, and also a board member of B3F, which focuses on breeding new apple-varieties.
Paul Hardman is the industry affairs manager of the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa (CGA). As an organisation, CGA represents all producers in South Africa that export citrus. Taking up his current position in 2003, Paul initially focused on food safety and quality assurance requirements for the 70-odd countries receiving South African citrus. The role has expanded over time to include overseeing special export programmes, supporting market access initiatives and more recently building IT platforms to make the fruit export process simpler and, ideally, paperless.
Seshu Kumar is national head of buying and merchandising for Indian online grocery retailer Big Basket. Prior to joining Big Basket, Seshu was head of rural retailing and marketing at ITC’s Agri Business Division, where he ran the Choupal Saagar chain of rural hypermarkets and rural activations for all ITC brands. He has also worked with Fabmall.com (then Fabmart.com), which was launched by the same team as Big Basket. Seshu has spearheaded Fabmall’s expansion into supermarkets.
Dr Avi Perl is the chief scientist at the Ministry of Agriculture in Israel. He has served in his current role since 2012 and has been heading up Israeli table grape breeding projects over the last 20 years. He has previously served as deputy director of the Institute of Plant Sciences and as head of the Department of Floriculture. He has also held senior positions with many other committees aimed at mediating basic and applied research in plant biotechnology, horticulture and molecular biology in Israel. Perl received his Ph.D. from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, in 1990.
Azhar Tambuwala is the director of Sahyadri Farmers Producer Company. Having been involved in the fresh produce export trade for the past 22 years, Azhar has played a leading hand in shaping the co-operative movement for Indian Grape farmers. He has travelled extensively to international markets to gain an understanding of product quality, packing, certifications and consumer preferences, in attempt to bring about change to India’s grape export industry. He has also pioneered the supply of Indian pomegranates to Europe and is involved with banana exports to the Middle East. He is working on building export programmes for various other fruit and vegetable categories, based on product and market requirements.
SD Saravana Gughan is CEO of Green Kitchen Multi Specialty Food, which is focused on fresh food, fine food and multi cuisine restaurants. Saravana has more than 20 years’ experience spanning the agribusiness, food retail, food service and quick service restaurant (QSR) sector. He played a key role in developing Reliance Retail’s food retail division with the establishment of the Reliance Fresh/Mart/Super businesses across India. Serving as vice-president and business head of fresh food services for Reliance Retail, his key contribution was to develop and execute supply chain integration for fresh fruit and vegetables. Prior to joining Reliance in 2005, Saravana spent a decade working with McDonald’s South Asia, where he set up supply chains spanning a range of fresh food segments. He also played a major role in McDonald’s APMEA agricultural products sourcing, processing cold chain, distribution and logistics.
Pier Filippo Tagliani is president of CIV Consorzio Italiano Vivaisti. A leading European research station, CIV specialises in variety innovation within a number of fruit categories, including strawberries, apples and pears. He has played a leading role in the development and promotion of Modi apples since 2007 and serves as chairman of ModìEuropa Spa.
Dario Mauro Lezziero is marketing director and international project manager of Modi Europa. Dario has considerable business experience within the FMCG sector, with his current role focused on the launch and marketing of new products within international markets. Over the last seven years, Dario has played a significant role in developing brand awareness for Modi apples.
Adani Agrifresh (India)
Srinivasa Ramanujam is the business head of Adani Agrifresh. Srinivasa is a management graduate from the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA), and has over 34 years of professional experience in various agri-businesses. He started his professional career with the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). He has also worked with Mahindra Shubhlabh Services and set up the rural retail business for Triveni Engineering & Industries. Prior to joining Adani Agrifresh, he was the head of agri supply chain for Reliance Retail in Gujarat.
Deccanfield Agro Industries (India)
Jagdeep Koushik is chief executive of Deccanfield Agro Industries, a fast-emerging Indian exporter of fruits and other agricultural produce set up in June 2016. Deccanfield has a particular focus on bananas, and has been building its Bengaluru Baby Bananas brand in domestic and export markets. Jagdeep is qualified in international trade, export documentation and export financing. He began his career as an automobile enthusiast refurbishing vintage vehicles. He later launched an advertising agency with friends – Shout Out Media – in which he is still involved. Jagdeep holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) and a Diploma in Automobile Engineering.
Sudipta Mukhopadhyay is divisional merchandising manager – fresh at WalMart India. Sudipta has extensive experience in India’s food and agribusiness sector, having worked across sales, marketing, sourcing, commodity and fresh produce trading, operations and channel management, production management and private label creation. He has worked with multi business conglomerates such as TATA Rallis, ITC International Business Division and RPSG-Spencer’s retail division. Sudipta says he appreciates the challenges faced by the food and agribusiness sector in India and is committed to contributing towards its growth.
Jacob Mualem Marom is the director of Kidum R&D Applications at the Agriculture Research Organisation (ARO) Volcani Center. The ARO is the research arm of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and is responsible for roughly 70 per cent of the public R&D in agriculture in Israel. Kidum is responsible for the commercialisation of technologies from the ARO and their development into commercial products in collaboration with the private sector. During Jacob’s term, the ARO’s yearly income via Kidum has risen by more than 400 per cent. Prior to joining Kidum and the ARO, Jacob was deputy director for work relations and wages at the Israeli Ministry of Finance.
Pratik Shevade is sales manager of Euromonitor in India. He is responsible for a team of sales professionals, working closely with them to generate new business leads for the market research company. His clientele includes financial and professional services companies, academic institutes and government agencies. His strong, communicative partnership with the Indian syndicated research team has been instrumental in developing focused solutions for clients and for clients to understand the value of research to their business. Pratik holds a degree from Visvesvaraya Technological University in Electronic Engineering.
Siva Shankaran is the head of business development at packaging company Uflex. During his six years with Uflex, Siva has developed FlexfreshO, a shelf life extension solution for fresh produce. He has held several key positions in the flexible packaging industry over the last 22 years and has experience in manufacturing, operations, product development and marketing.
Gerhard Dichgans is chief executive of VOG, a consortium of fruit growing co-operatives in Italy’s South Tyrol region. Gerhard served as VOG’s head of sales prior to taking up his current position in 1990. Gerhard holds a Masters in Economics from the University of Freiburg. He speaks Italian, German, English, Spanish and French.
Dr AK Singh
National Horticulture Board (India)
Dr Anand Kumar (AK) Singh is managing director of the National Horticulture Board (NHB). NHB was set up by the Indian government in 1984 to promote the holistic growth of the horticulture sector. Part of the Ministry of Agriculture, NHB supports farmers and entrepreneurs to face the challenges of globalised markets with improved production, post-harvest management and value addition. Anand is also chairman of the Coconut Development Board, which falls under the Ministry of Agriculture. Prior to joining NHB, he was senior scientist at the Tata Energy Research Institute. He holds an M.Sc and a Ph.D from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi.
Niyazi Gasymov is the co-founder of Russian importer Souyzpormcontract. Established in 1995, the company opened its first warehouse in the Moscow region in 2004. Souyzpormcontract has continued to expand into other regions of Russia and currently operates eight branches in cities such as Saint-Petersburg, Saratov, Kaluga, Astrakhan, Omsk and Chelyabinsk. In 2008, the company started growing its own apples, plums and persimmon, with its production base currently spread across 418ha. Niyazi is also the head of the Association of Producers, Importers and Exporters of Fresh Produce (APIEFP).
Anton Kruger is chief executive of South Africa’s Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum. He has extensive experience in stakeholder and executive management across various industries, including tertiary education, broadcasting, financial services and agriculture. Before joining the Exporters’ Forum in March 2012, Anton was the chief executive of the South African Ostrich Business Chamber. He is currently a board member of the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB). Anton holds an MBA degree, along with a BA Honours (Geography), Higher Education Diploma and a Diploma in Investment Management.
Tarun Arora is a director of IG International. His role focuses on guiding the company through diversification and growth, as it continues to position itself as one of the leaders in the Indian fresh fruit industry. Sensing the need to develop an end-to-end cool chain, Tarun has played a leading hand in establishing IG Supply Chain, a network of temperature-controlled warehouses holding a capacity of 20,000 pallets across nine facilities. In addition to the cool stores, IG Supply Chain operates a fleet of 70 trucks, 50 of which are reefer trucks that ship products from ports to markets. Tarun holds a Diploma in Private Equity from Harvard Business School, along with an MBA from MIT School of Business. He is the son of IG International chairman G.C Arora.