The inexpensive and cheap guava, known as amrud in Hindi, is finding its way into India’s export basket. Leading the way in finding a market abroad is a group of 25 farmers from the temple town of Palani in Tamil Nadu.
The farmers, under the umbrella of “Guava Growers Association”, are supplying the fruit to an exporter in Pollachi, 30 km from Coimbatore for shipments to West Asia.
“Every alternate day, guava is sent in a 250-kg consignment in plastic trays,” says S. Gnanavel, Secretary of the association.
The growers’ body procures, grades and packs the fruits for exports.
Gaining access to overseas market is of immense help to the farmers as they get a price that is three times the normal they receive for supplying to the domestic market.
Every kg of export fetches growers Rs. 30-35 against Rs. 8-10 they get from local traders. But, there is a catch. The best quality grade finds its way to the market abroad, while retail outlets in nearby towns such as Coimbatore get only the second best.
The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, played a vital role in changing the lives of these guava growers. The varsity initiated a scheme “Value chain on guava for domestic and export market” that was funded by the National Agriculture Innovations Project being implemented by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research with aid from World Bank.
Another major development that has come out through this project is improvement in productivity, which has increased to 12 tonnes a hectare from less than 10 tonnes.
The project has been in operation since 2009 and its objective is to improve productivity and quality through good agricultural practices, cutting post-harvest losses and increasing the shelf life, according to Dr T.N. Balamohan, Special Officer (Mango and Guava), Horticulture College and Research Institute for Women, Navalur Kuttapattu, Tiruchi.
The 25 farmers were identified for this project and they were given training in scientific cultivation practices that included soil testing, drip irrigation, micro and macro nutrients application and integrated pest and disease management. They were also trained in post-harvest technology.
Further, the growers were also introduced to the concept of market intelligence. A stakeholders’ meet was held to introduce the growers to traders, exporters, retailers, bankers and fruit graders for better market linkage.
Once the growers supplied the initial consignment, officials of the exporting firm and the varsity visited the farms to educate the farmers on harvest indices and standards.