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The pioneering idea that could empower India’s horticulture farmers

A revolutionary new initiative is helping drive India's circular fruit economy

As horticultural production consistently outpaces India’s food grain production, agricultural practitioners are increasingly realising the importance of innovative means to meet the growing requirements. In this regard, a revolutionary new initiative by Coca-Cola is making significant changes to the country’s fruit circular economy.

Produce from the farms is bought by companies like Coca-Cola, processed in hygienic and state-of-the-art facilities, and then offered to consumers through a range of choices. In 2014, a study found that nearly 18 per cent of India’s fruits and vegetables worth INR 13,300 crore are wasted annually. If this farm produce could be processed, the money could return to the agricultural ecosystem.

The output of India’s fruits and vegetable has been higher than food grains since the past five years. Farmers realise the importance of horticulture produce since they are able to realise cash for such produce sooner than for food grains. In addition, sometimes, the price realisation is far better as compared to what the farmer can earn for food grain produce.

Totapuri mangoes, for example, are used in preparation of the pulp and juice for Maaza, India’s most-loved mango juice drink. Over the last 10 years, thanks to the increased demand, the prices of mangoes have seen a fourfold jump. Food grain prices, in comparison, may have seasonally gone up but have not witnessed such an uptrend.

The introduction of Ultra High Density Production (UHDP) technique, pioneered in India by Coca-Cola and its partners, has helped double production of mangoes from the same acreage. Several Coca-Cola products now have added fruit juice, which is adding to the 200,000 tons of fruits that the company purchases annually.

According to a report by AT Kearney in 2011, only about two per cent of India’s fruits and vegetables were processed against 35 per cent of food grain and pulses. New farming techniques can help the industry with a steady supply of fruits that can be converted into packaged drinks and other products for consumers.

Good agricultural practices can help farmers adopt the methods to grow more cash crops. India’s agricultural institutions will have to reinvent themselves to help farmers align themselves with the needs of the industry. For farmers that could mean the ready buyer, for industry it could mean assured supplies, and for consumers it could mean more natural ingredients in their favourite beverages.

Besides the fruits that it purchases in India, Coca-Cola also exports it to 44 countries under 10 categories. That is another opportunity that can be opened up for farmers if their produce meets international quality standards.

(The information has been sourced from Coca-Cola Journey digital magazine. To read more, please visit www.coca-colaindia.com)

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