With help from Israel and Spain, Russia done, UK next on Punjab’s kinnow export map
Scissors from Israel for safe plucking, and wax from Spain for better shelf life, were key steps that Punjab Agro Industries Corporation (PAIC) took over a month ago to compete as a global exporter of the citrus fruit kinnow to as far as Russia and the UK, competing with neighbouring Pakistan.punjab Updated: Feb 18, 2017 10:38 IST
Scissors from Israel for safe plucking, and wax from Spain for better shelf life, were key steps that Punjab Agro Industries Corporation (PAIC) took over a month ago to compete as a global exporter of the citrus fruit kinnow to as far as Russia and the UK, competing with neighbouring Pakistan.
This week, Punjab’s containers of kinnow touched the shores of Russia at St Petersburg, while the state’s first ever consignment of the fruit for the UK would be flagged off from the PAIC’s grading and waxing centre at Badal village near here by the coming Sunday, February 19.
The PAIC, a state undertaking, has set a target of exporting nearly 25,000 metric tonnes of the fruit by the next season, beginning December 2017. The target would be accomplished through either direct exports or by facilitating the state’s private exporters, PAIC general manager (exports) Ranbir Singh said.
The 25,000 MT target still is way short of Pakistan’s 3 lakh MTs already being exported to the West.
“We (in Indian Punjab) simply never explored the potential,” said Ranbir Singh.
Eight containers , 192 MTs in all, would be heading for the UK over the next 2 weeks, while the consignment already shipped to Russia was of 144 MTs in six containers.
EXPERTISE FROM SPAIN
Food processing expert Miguel Gregori from Spain was at the PAIC’s plant in Badal village on Thursday, sharing tips with the officials. Migueal, who works for a Spanish firm, also held a workshop of the kinnow growers at Abohar in Fazilka district that covers 60% of the state’s area under kinnow.
“A distance of not more than 6 inches should be kept between the fruit and the wax-spraying nozzle,” he stressed at another plant of a private kinnow grower and exporter near Abohar.
Migueal was scheduled to also visit Hoshiarpur district that holds 11% share in the state’s kinnow production.
“The waxing was actually a challenge for us, looking at the standards of the global food-export market,” Ranbir told HT, reasoning why the import of wax from Spain. The new edible wax contains a fungicide that increases the shelf life of the fruit, he added.
Abohar’s Surinder Kumar, an exporter who farms 2,000 acres on lease, said the lack of refrigerated trucks led to “50% of the kinnow sold at throwaway prices in local market in Punjab only this season”.
“We are dependent on the truckers of Delhi for the cold chain supply, and the onset of summers will escalate our problem. Thousands of tonnes of consignments are yet to be lifted to meet the demand in the southern states,” he said.
PAIC managing director KS Pannu acknowledged the lack of a cold chain. He, however, stated that the corporation has already developed an outsourcing mechanism for marketing the produce in southern states such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala.
He said permission has been granted from the central excise department for stuffing of kinnow in containers at the pack houses directly, so that the produce does not have to be unloaded at ports for clearance.