India's post-harvest infrastructure including storage facilities should be improved for strengthening the plantation sector, said experts here on Friday.
They were speaking at a seminar held on the sidelines of Plantation Expo', organised by the newly set up Plantation Directorate, Government of Kerala, here. According to a recent survey, the country's available storage facility is sufficient to keep only 10 per cent of India's plantation products. And this in turn results in 6-18 per cent wastage of fruits during the post-harvest period, an official release said. It has been noted, as consumers have realised the nutritional value of fruits, the market demand for fruits has shown a remarkable hike during the post-pandemic period. And in India, 80% of fruits are sold as fresh fruits, said Sanjib Kumar Sahoo of IG International. Pointing to the major challenges faced by the sector in the seminar, themed Income augmentation in plantation sector through diversification and value addition', he said, adequate focus should be given to improving the land suitability, quality of yields, and packaging of plantation products besides conducting research and training in the sector-specific areas. Speaking on sustainability in agriculture, Ashok Nair, Head, Sustainable Agri Operations, AVT McCormick Ingredients Pvt Ltd, said timely soil testing in ensuring the organic matter content in the soil is important as that will help produce quality yields. "Sustainable agri operations like vegetative mulching, and soil and water testing will help improve the production in the plantation sector. Vegetative mulching will help farmers improve soil condition and thereby the produce," said Nair. Also, women's participation should be ensured in all stages of cultivation, he said. He also noted that 85 per cent of India's spice production is from small holders who mostly adopt conventional practices. Adverse climatic conditions also pose a major threat to these spice farmers. CR Elsy, former Professor, and Co-ordinator, IPR Cell, Kerala Agricultural University, said GI tag status for products will help customers avail quality products by avoiding fake products reaching markets. Producers will get financial stability with their products getting GI tag. Currently, 35 products from Kerala have been granted GI tag and more products will be added to the list. As part of protecting our traditional products we should focus on branding them, besides striving to get GI tag status, she added. Stressing on the importance of including jackfruit in the daily diet of Keralites, James Joseph, Founder of Jackfruit 365 said 36 per cent of their customers are from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The seminar aims at introducing the latest trends in the plantation sector apart from formulating policies to market value-added products. The event is conceived as the first major step to make Kerala Plantation a global brand while ensuring the progress of the labourers in the sector. The expo features 100 stalls showcasing the products and services of the participants, a statement added.
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