Leading The Winds Of Change: Taking Local Produce To Newer Heights
New-generation businesses can contribute towards developing the national economy and obtaining produce from local farmers
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The Indian subcontinent has been bestowed with favorable yet diverse climate and physio-geographical conditions for a wide range of horticultural and plantation crops. Fruits and vegetables alone account for nearly 90% of the total horticulture production in our country. The underlying point being that Indian brands and startups must leverage local produce that is widely produced on our favorable soil for retail products.
New-generation businesses can contribute towards developing the national economy and obtaining produce from local farmers. They should buy fruits that are locally grown by farmers. Pineapple can be sourced from Sindhudurg, strawberry from Mahabaleshwar and honey from tribals around Jawhar Mokhada.
With this, the village farmers are benefitting directly because of the lack of middle men. There is a treasure trove of local produce simply waiting to be directly obtained by Indian startups for their products. This can be especially leveraged by several players from the food and beverage industry including wine producers, restaurants, supermarkets, ecommerce players, etc.
India is in fact the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables worldwide. However, due to inadequate facilities for processing and transportation, nearly 35% to 40% of the total produce is wasted amounting to a loss of Rs 3,000 crore annually. It would be beneficial for government and businesses alike to come together and tackle this problem of wastage.
The produce of vulnerable farmers is being tarnished each year, without much improvements. The sustainability of local produce is pivotal for the future, which coincidentally correspond to the emerging trends among the Indian urban population as well – the demand for natural, fresh, and local produce for healthier food and beverage options.
On the flipside, the country imported Rs 5,897 crore worth of fruits and vegetables in 2016/17. India is by no means short of fruits and vegetables, and the nation must invest in food security of its local produce. The government, private investors, and brands alike must invest in smarter value chains where they transcend beyond increasing shelf life, nutrition preservation, and provision of fortified products. They must also look towards providing farm extension services, enhancing price realization, cutting out intermediaries, and improving the supply line through forward and backward links.
The success of these processes has been such that they have resurrected a desolate chikoo market, where several farmers had lost their livelihoods due to a seed borer disease in 2006.
More thought must be given to reviving traditional crops and plantations by implementing cutting-edge technology. The latter can help gain volatile information on crop rotation, or weather patterns like a weather risk management software which can predict rainfall patterns and other parameters through satellite imaging, organic or chemical free fertilizer use, and crop transportation.
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