Sahota brothers, who emigrated to Canada from the Doaba region of Punjab where every other homestead has an NRI, are today the largest producers of carrots in western Canada.
In fact, a packet of carrots, potatoes, cabbage or parsnips at any supermarket in Canada invariably bears the label of Sahotas’ Canadian Farms.
“Though we produce many crops such as potatoes, cabbage, parsnips, pumpkins and others, we are the largest carrot growers in western Canada. And we are the only producer of baby carrots in the whole of western Canada,” says Amrik Sahota, the youngest of the four Sahota brothers who hail from Phalpota village, near Jalandhar, in Punjab.
The four Sikh brothers Avtar Sahota, Sucha Sahota, Ranbir Sahota and Amrik Sahota have revolutionized carrot cultivation in Canada.
“Our farming operations spread over 900 acres yield the best carrots in Canada. Last year, we produced over 10,0000 tons of carrot and shipped it across Canada, the US and elsewhere. Though the US and Canada are our main markets, we also ship to Dubai and Thailand,” says Amrik. In less than three decades, the four hard-working Punjabi brothers have become the top carrot producers by employing state-of-the-art technology. Their sales turnover topped $15 million last year.
“We have procured the best technology from around the world to stay ahead of the competition. We have imported costly machines from Germany, Denmark, Holland, the US and Belgium. All our farming from sowing to harvesting are tech-oriented,” explains the youngest of the Sahota brothers.
Though they employ hundreds of people during their peak season from June to December, Canadian Farms are essentially a state-of-the-art farming operation where just three persons manning one machine can harvest up to 18 tons of crop in 45 minutes! The Sahotas are a typical Punjabi immigrant success story in Canada.
Their eldest brother landed as an immigrant in Vancouver in 1970 and then the whole family joined him in 1976. And just like any new immigrant, they worked in factories to make a living in their earlier years.
“But farming was in our DNA. So we bought 40 acres in Cloverdale near Vancouver even when we used to work in factories. It was only in 1988 that we decided to make a living out of it,” says Amrik.
The Sahota brothers started off farming operations with cabbage and lettuces. In 1992, as they just incorporated their operations under the brand name of Canadian Farms, they got lucky when they got a quota to supply carrot to major store chains.
As Amrik explains, “Unlike Punjab, we have an organized and regulated marketing system here for farm produce. When we got a quota to supply carrot, it is then when we took its cultivation seriously.”