Cigi specialist dedicated to ensuring millers use Canadian wheat to its fullest potential
Miller, educator, technical consultant, software innovator, author and promoter of Canadian wheat—in a milling career that has spanned 40 years, there aren’t many hats that Ashok Sarkar hasn’t worn. Along the way, he has helped customers worldwide obtain optimum flour quality from Canadian wheat and worked closely with the domestic industry to promote Canadian grain internationally. Needless to say, Sarkar, who was recently appointed Senior Advisor, Technology at Cigi (Canadian International Grains Institute) after serving as Cigi’s head of milling technology for 26 years, is a much sought-after resource for millers and a respected industry colleague.
After working in flour mills in India, Switzerland and Canada, Sarkar, who joined Cigi in 1979, has helped shape Cigi’s milling facility into a centre of excellence capable of supporting a wide range of educational, applied research and customer service activities. He has developed a rare knowledge of the milling industry on six continents, delivering hundreds of milling presentations and demonstrations, and visiting mills in over 50 countries.
Ashok Sarkar works on behalf of western Canadian farmers by ensuring millers around the world use the wheat they grow to its fullest potential. In this photo Ashok (foreground) is visiting a mill in Bangladesh.
He has interacted with thousands of individuals participating in Cigi programs. Many of them are farmers attending Combine to Customer courses, eager to learn more about the quality requirements of customers using their wheat to produce a wide range of products around the world.
“The work we do at Cigi helps promote Canada and the wheat grown by western Canadian farmers to a global audience,” said Sarkar. “We have the technical expertise to demonstrate to customers how different grades or classes of wheat can meet their needs. Farmer funding through the Western Wheat and Barley Check-off supports our technical and market development work.”
In addition to sharing his knowledge of milling techniques and his expertise in generating flours of desired quality from Canadian wheat, Sarkar has also been a champion of the Flour Fortification Initiative. Through this effort, he has helped raise international awareness of the value of fortifying flour with essential nutrients for populations deficient in key vitamins and minerals, like iron and folic acid, by working with millers to address technical issues and processing questions.
Discussing flour quality with participants from Mexico attending a Cigi program. Ashok (right) has helped shape Cigi’s milling facility into a centre of excellence supporting a wide range of educational, applied research and customer service activities.
Other initiatives have furthered Sarkar’s reputation on the world stage. He successfully pioneered least-cost wheat grist milling software to assist millers in producing flours on specification while minimizing costs. This development led to Sarkar becoming a frequent guest speaker on the subject, both nationally and internationally.
“Ashok is a respected ambassador for Canadian wheat and the Canadian industry as a whole,” said Rex Newkirk, Cigi vice-president of research and innovation. “He is a soft-spoken individual but when he talks people listen. He is working hard on behalf of farmers by ensuring millers around the world are using the wheat they grow to its fullest potential to produce flours used in countless products.”