Purandhar Highlands aims to take apples and figs overseas
Purandhar taluka apple and cream fig growers in Pune district aim to replicate the success of Nashik winemakers by taking their produce beyond traditional markets and overselling. Over the past three years, Purandhar Highlands – an Agricultural Producers Company (FPC), has tried to organize producers according to scientific criteria to help them reach larger markets with better yields.
Rohan Ursal, the company’s chief executive, said they decided to expand their operations after realizing the demand for their products. Purandhar’s dry loamy soil is ideal for growing apples and figs, but given the highly perishable nature of the fruit, farmers have not been able to explore the full potential of the markets. “Purandhar’s custard has a very unique taste and cannot be replicated anywhere else. The figs from our region have received the IG label, proving their specialty, ”he added.
These fruits require specific packaging and post-harvest techniques to ensure their transport. Purandhar’s products made their way to Hyderabad and other markets, but volume was low. “Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any research on these two fruits – what we need is the type of research that has helped grapes and pomegranates to conquer global markets,” he said. .
Prior to the pandemic, Ursal, who is a commission agent in the Pune market, had entered into talks with various state agricultural universities to encourage them to undertake research on the fruit. “Before the containment, we planned to visit the United States to understand the varieties that are grown there. We plan to get such varieties in India to help our farmers grow fruit with longer shelf life, ”he said. However, those plans have been put on hold following the Covid lockdowns. Collaboration with input companies for better agricultural practices was also underway. “It all depends on the fruit grown – we aim to train our producers to grow and pick quality products,” he said.
As such plans were scrapped, FPC began to network with farmers to develop a market. Post-harvest centers are also in place to help farmers package their produce scientifically. The project, which initially had only a few farmers, now has several thousand farmers in its nets. “Farmers have confidence that they will be able to sell their products, even in small quantities,” he said.
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Recently, Ursal met with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari to discuss the possibility of better road transport. “We can reproduce the success of grapes and pomegranates in our products provided we have good transport infrastructure. The next phase of growth will see us working on this, ”said Ursal.