Growers of custard apples and figs in Purandar taluka of Pune district, Nashik grape growers aim to succeed in taking their produce beyond the traditional markets and abroad. Over the past three years, Purandar Highlands – a farmer producer company (FPC), has been trying to organize farmers in a scientific way to help them reach wider markets with better profits.
Rohan Ursal, managing director of the company, said they decided to elevate their operations after realizing the need for their products. Purandar’s dry clay soil custard is ideal for the growth of apples and figs, but due to the high perishability of the fruit, farmers have not been able to explore the full potential of the markets. “The custard apple from Purandar has a very unique taste and cannot be replicated anywhere else. The GI tag given to the figs in our area proves their uniqueness,” he added.
Special packaging and post-harvest techniques are required to ensure that these fruits are suitable for transport. Production from Purandar went to Hyderabad and other markets, but volume was low. “Unfortunately, we do not see research in these two fruits – what we need is research that has helped grapes and pomegranates capture global markets,” he said.
Prior to the epidemic, Ursal, who was a commission agent at the Pune Martyard, began negotiations with various state agricultural universities to encourage fruit research. Before the lockout, we had planned to go to the United States to understand the varieties grown there. We plan to get such varieties in India to help our farmers grow high-yielding fruits, ”he said. However, these plans were shelved following the lockout of Govt. Cooperation was also provided with input companies for better agricultural practices. “Everything depends on the fruits grown – we aim to train our farmers to grow and harvest quality produce,” he said.
As such projects were put on hold, the FPC began networking with farmers to create a market. There are also post-harvest centers that help farmers pack their produce scientifically. The scheme, which initially had only a few farmers, now has several thousand farmers in its web. “Farmers are assured that they will be able to sell their produce even in small quantities,” he said.
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Recently, Ursal met Union Minister Nitin Gadkari to discuss the possibility of better road transport. “If we have good transport infrastructure we can reflect the success of grapes and pomegranates in our products. The next phase of development will see what we work on,” Ursal said.