As Pakistani dried dates become costly, Kutch farmers launch dehydration plant

WITH THE harvesting season of recent dates taking off, 4 farmers of Anjar taluka of Kutch district on Sunday launched their date dehydration plant, first-of-its-kind within the state, with an intention to cater to the home market of dried dates presently serviced by imports from Pakistan. Their enterprise coincides with what guarantees to be a good-crop yr in Kutch, the “dates bowl” of the nation.

With 18,825 hectare (ha) below date palm cultivation, Kutch is the most important date palm district within the nation, accounting for round 85 per cent of acreage and manufacturing of India, say scientists of Sardarkrushniagar Dantiwada Agricultural College’s Date Palm Analysis Station (DPRS), in Mundra, Kutch.

Farmers in Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana have additionally began cultivating this crop in recent times even because the nation stays depending on imports from Gulf nations and Pakistan for assembly its demand of round 3 lakh tonnes (lt) of Pind Khajoor (tender dates) and greater than 1.5 lt of chuhhara (dried dates), they add.

Of late, farmers have been planting high-yielding Bahri selection, generally generally known as Israeli selection. A number of biotechnology laboratories have additionally developed high-quality crops of indigenous varieties by tissue tradition and began supplying to farmers.

“However seedling-origin indigenous varieties account for nearly 70 per cent of complete acreage of date palms in Kutch and there’s enormous variability in high quality of fruits,” says Kapilmohan Sharma, assistant analysis scientist at DPRS.

The standard variation leads to differentiated costs, says Vikramsinh Jadeja, common secretary of Kutch Date Palm Growers Affiliation (KDPGA), an organisation of round 500 farmers in Kutch.

“Whereas premium recent dates of indigenous varieties fetch as much as Rs 400 per kilogram, some palms of indigenous varieties produce inferior high quality recent dates that fetch as little as Rs 3 per kg,” Jadeja, who owns an 8-hectare orchard in Khedoi village of Anjar taluka, says.

To handle this problem, Jadeja and three different farmers — Kishorsinh Jadeja, Praful Patel and Girish Mistry — shaped a gaggle referred to as Sarthi Buying and selling and arrange a dehydration plant with a capability of 5 metric tonnes per day in Khedoi. The farmers put their plant on steam on Sunday after getting an order from Noida-headquartered Dharampal Satyapal Group to provide 200 metric tonnes of dried dates.

“Round half of three lakh metric tonnes recent dates produced in Kutch shouldn’t be fetching the perfect worth. Alternatively, the landed price of dried dates imported from Pakistan has gone up since direct commerce from the nation was suspended within the aftermath of India ending the particular standing of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. Pakistan imports are routed by Nepal and Dubai, growing the fee. The DS Group gave us an order to provide 200 metric tonnes of dried dates… Subsequently, we sourced a custom-made plant from Ahmedabad at the price of Rs 25 lakh and began manufacturing from Sunday,” mentioned 73-year-old Jadeja.

Kishorsinh and Patel too personal date palm orchards in Kheodi and neighbouring Pantiya villages respectively, whereas Mistry owns a mango orchard in Nagalpar — all in Anjar taluka.

DS Group couldn’t be reached for a remark.

Sharma of DPRS says the commerce embargo by Pakistan presents a chance to Indian farmers and processors. “We have now been making an attempt to tempt trade and farmers into the worth addition enterprise. However the problem was worth competitiveness of dehydrated dates vis-à-vis dried dates imported from Pakistan.”

“In Khairpur district of Pakistan’s Sindh province, longer summer season, little rainfall and sunny days permit farmers to sun-dry their kharek whereas in Kutch, monsoon and kharek harvesting season usually coincide, permitting no window for sun-drying the fruit. Subsequently, the fruits require to be dehydrated mechanically, which entails a price,” he mentioned, including the DPRS has been guiding farmers like Jadeja.

Sharma mentioned that the value of dried dates imported from Pakistan was round Rs 100 to Rs 130 in retail markets in India. However after the Balakot air strike, costs of dry dates shot as much as round Rs 250 as commerce between the 2 international locations was affected.

Harvesting of indigenous kinds of darkish crimson kharekh begins within the second half of June whereas the Bahri harvesting season begins to start with of July. “Harvesting season sometimes lasts for 15 to twenty days and farmers need to promote their produce even at low charges as shelf-life of harvested kharek shouldn’t be longer than every week. The DS Group has provided us a very good procurement worth for dried dates and requested us to be beneficiant whereas procuring kharekh from farmers. If our first season goes nicely, we will scale up manufacturing,” Jadeja added.

Sharma mentioned that high quality variation stays excessive in dried dates even imported from Pakistan and that dehydrated khareks of Kutch can match the Pakistani produce in high quality, whilst different farmers welcomed the information of date processing taking off.

“A good portion of manufacturing from indigenous selection palms in my orchard usually lacks the standard to be marketed as recent dates. Processing crops would assist get higher costs,” Shambhu Bhanushali, a date palm grower from Kanakpur village in Abadasa taluka of Kutch, mentioned including, “The crop seems superb this yr… If it doesn’t rain for a number of days, we will have a bumper harvest.”

Kutch is among the many driest districts within the nation with lower than 17 inch common annual rainfall. “Nevertheless, the summer season shouldn’t be lengthy and sizzling sufficient to permit khareks to ripen and become khajoor. Subsequently, farmers right here have to reap early and promote their produce,” says KP Sojitra, Gujarat state’s deputy director of horticulture in Kutch, including, save Gujarat and Mumbai, kharek consumption in different components of India is negligible.

“However Kutch kharek has discovered a brand new market in Bangladesh in recent times. With transportation hyperlinks bettering, export to Bangladesh has become cheaper and helps costs secure within the home market,” Ramesh Thakkar, a farmer who has a five-acre date palm orchard in Kukma village in Bhuj taluka.

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