Farmer entrepreneurs become India’s largest grape exporter

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A European Union rejection turned out to be a watershed moment for an entrepreneur’s endeavours who then converted his private grape export company to full-fledged farmer’s cooperative, which is now also India’s largest grape exporter, reports Financial Express.

When a consignment from his company was turned down by the EU due to compliance failure in 2009, Vilas Shinde decided to convert his “farmer-entrepreneurs” company to Farmers Producer Company (FPC), the Indian Express reported. The 2004 incepted company now has over 6,500 farmers and the company which was rechristened to Sahyadri FPC in 2011, exported 21,141 tonnes of grapes to the EU, Russia and UAE in the last fiscal.

Vilas Shinde started his company in 2004, along with nine other farmers in Nashik’s grape bowl. The privately-held company undertook direct exports and realised a better value for their produce. That very year, the firm shipped four containers of fresh grapes to the European Union (EU). However, in 2009, the EU rejected grape consignments from India as they were detected to have pesticide residues beyond permissible limits. The same incident was the trigger for the formation of Sahyadri FPC, Vilas Shinde told Financial Express.

The company reported a profit of Rs 17.89 crore on the total sales of Rs 360 crore in the last financial year 2018-19. The same also accounts domestic sales through 13 retail shops in Nashik and Mumbai. “My idea was always to build a value chain specifically for small and marginal farmers. But now, we also realised the need for investing both in infrastructure and backend integration to enable farmers grow quality produce,” Vilas Shinde said to the Indian Express. 

Sahyadri FPC recently signed a contract with one of the leading FMCG companies in India — Hindustan Unilever — to manufacture jam, squash and tomato puree. The company hopes that the deal will help cushion growers from price crashes due to production glut and will also improve capacity utilisation at the Mohadi complex.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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