Pomegranate export: APEDA facilitates India’s first commercial trial shipment to the US via sea

Pomegranate export: APEDA facilitates India’s first commercial trial shipment to the US via sea

India successfully flagged off its first commercial trial shipment of pomegranates to the US via sea under the aegis of Agricultural Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) by INI Farms from IFC facility, MSAMB, Vashi (Navi Mumbai). Rajesh Aggarwal, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry and Abhishek Dev, Chairman, APEDA flagged off the pomegranate shipment comprising 4200 boxes (12.6 tonnes). The pomegranate export event was attended by representatives from the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB), Regional Plant Quarantine Station (RPQS- MoA&FW), Maharashtra Agriculture Department, ICAR- National Research Centres for Pomegranate, US Consulate and INI Farms.

Last year APEDA successfully carried out an air shipment of pomegranates with irradiation treatment and static trial in association with ICAR-NRC Pomegranate, Solapur as a technical partner. Based on the successful result of the static trial, APEDA aimed for a successful sign-off for this consignment via sea-opening trade relations to potential markets for Indian pomegranates. India, one of the largest producers of pomegranates, is also now aiming to be amongst the top pomegranate exporting countries in the world. India is a key player growing in the EU, Middle East and Asian markets.

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The trial air shipment, static sea trial and the sea container were executed by APEDA-registered INI Farms – a top exporter of fruits and vegetables from India with their produce being exported to over 25 countries worldwide. Over the years, the firm has made extensive efforts to enhance the quality and shelf-life of pomegranates to meet the standards of the global markets. As part of the AgroStar group, INI Farms has established a value chain for pomegranates by working directly with farmers in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

The fruit was sourced from Anarnet registered farmers from Sangola in Maharashtra. Significantly, the premium received by farmers was 20 per cent compared to other export markets and 35 per cent compared to the domestic market.

During the shipment, Rajesh Agarwal, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Government of India said, “There is a huge opportunity for exports for the Indian agriculture industry. India’s unique agro-climatic conditions combined with the vast diversity of F&V (fruits & vegetables) offerings and our ability to grow produce around the year give us a unique advantage in the global F&V trade. Such initiatives are connecting Indian farmers to the world and this will massively benefit both parties as global consumers will get the opportunity to enjoy Indian produce and as a result, Indian farmers will prosper with the help of access to global markets. This initiative is a good start and a testament to the growing India-US relations. I would like to thank all stakeholders from APEDA, NPPO, MSAMB, ICAR-NRC, US Consulate and INI Farms for making this initiative possible.”

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Speaking on pomegranate export, Abhishek Dev, Chairman, APEDA said, “Fruit exports from India have been growing steadily over the last few years. We are seeing 29 per cent year-on-year growth in fresh fruit exports and pomegranate alone is growing at 20 per cent year-on-year and has the potential to grow further in the coming years. This initiative is a collaborative effort from the production side, the exporter and the buyers. We are grateful to the efforts of the USDA officials who helped us implement the right practices. We also developed sea protocols which have helped us build a 60-day shelf-life of the product and preserve its quality. With the success of this first commercial sea trial shipment of pomegranates to the USA, we are hopeful that it will open up many more opportunities for F&V exports to the USA.”

Speaking at the occasion, Pankaj Khandelwal, Co-CEO, INI Farms said, “We are proud to be the pioneers in the industry to ship pomegranates to the USA. This milestone is part of the continuous efforts of the entire INI Farms team that has helped put the Indian farmer on the world map by making great quality Indian fruits available worldwide. We are grateful for the support provided by APEDA, NRC Solapur, RPQS, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, MoA&FW, MSAMB, Maharashtra agriculture ministry and USDA APHIS in making this possible.”

Michael Schreuder, Dy Principal Officer, US Consulate, Mumbai said, “This is a landmark day for India-US trade as this consignment of pomegranates commences its journey via a 37-day journey by sea. This initiative is also a demonstration of the growing bilateral relations and trust between the two countries.”

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Ajay Rao, Regional Managing Director, South Asia, US International Development Finance Corporation said, “India is a big focus area for the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), especially from an impact investing point of view. Today, DFC has its largest investment exposure in India. We are proud to partner with our portfolio company, INI Farms as they are a good representation of the type of impact investing we look to undertake. INI Farms is playing a key role in increasing farmer incomes, providing employment to rural women with an 80 per cent female workforce at their Baramati packhouse, and reducing food wastage to less than 2 per cent in the whole process with their near-farm post-harvest practices. We are confident this initiative will open up more opportunities to create a positive impact on the Indian agriculture ecosystem in the future.”

Pomegranate is an important agri-produce of India, the rich history associated with fruit and its nutritional value contribute to its popular demand. India produces some of the best varieties of pomegranate in terms of quality with soft fleshy seeds, low acidity and attractive colour. Saffron pomegranate is considered amongst the best varieties around the world. In the last decade, India has increased the area as well as the production of pomegranate and seen an increase in pomegranate export. In the pomegranate market, India holds a significant advantage of being able to supply pomegranates throughout the year with trained farmers for expert quality products.

APEDA has facilitated pomegranate export worth US$58.36 million in 2022-23 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bangladesh, Nepal, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bahrain, and Oman.

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