After the successful launch of a drink made from kiwi fruits grown in Arunachal Pradesh, experts have suggested that the state government venture into making fruit wine from the various fruits which are abundant in the northeastern state.
Arunachal, which enjoys the distinction of being the largest kiwi producing state in the country, annually produces an average of 30,945.2 MT of apples, 4,720.5 MT of kiwi, 1,76,707 MT citrus and 67,580 MT of pineapples.
According to official data, the state has 18 lakh hectares of land available for horticulture of which only 1.13 lakh hectares have till date been brought under cultivation.
"Fruit wine could be a money spinner for the state. The state government could seriously think about its potential and go for wine manufacturing from various available fruits in the state," said Akalpit Prabhune, director of Pune-based Hill Crest Foods and Beverages Pvt Ltd, who was here on May 6 to launch Arun Kiwi Wine.
The Arunachal Pradesh Horticultural Produce Marketing & Processing Board (APHPM&PB) had signed an MoU with the company in December 2013 for producing kiwi wine. Rhythm Winery, a part of the company, is sourcing over 2.5 tonnes of kiwi from Arunachal for brewing the wine. According to the terms of the MoU, the revenue from the business would go to APHPM&PB while Rhythm Winery is only a service provider working on a project basis.
The state government has fully funded the project and borne the full cost of Rs 18,84,000 incurred on it.
Prabhune said that kiwi has high aroma and a refreshing flavour. It is of high acidic nature and has sugar levels similar to that of grapes.
"Kiwi has several health benefits as it has a high percentage of anti-oxidants and Vitamin C," he said, adding that fruit wine as a processing industry could produce high end products at low cost.
Prabhune has suggested that the state government frame a wine policy to help the farmers who are interested in setting up wineries.
"Since the area and production is increasing year after year, there is tremendous scope for establishment of food processing industries in the agri and allied sectors, especially in horticulture," pointed out Arunachal agriculture and horticulture minister Chowna Mein.
He said that the department's officials have been directed to explore similar avenues for other fruits so that farmers may benefit and food processing industries find encouragement in the state.
"The government is eager to support, promote and welcome such endeavours," he said while inviting investors to set up wineries and other value-addition industries in the state.
He said that raw materials are abundantly available in the state and that that would also increase over the years.
Orange wineries could double the profits for orange growers as they could use small and discarded oranges to generate "wealth from waste", observed Raghunath W Khare, a consultant from Bengaluru.
He was recently in the state on an invitation from the Arunachal government to act as a consultant on the potential for fruit wine production in the state.
Highlighting the benefits of the industry, Khare said that wineries would protect fruit growers from the vagaries of nature. If the weather is bad and the fruit quality suffers, then large fruit sales may suffer, but winery profits would never decrease.
"Quality of wine can be adjusted even if fruit quality is poor. Even if the fruit falls due to hailstorm, it can be processed into an intermediate product which can be converted to wine later," he said.
Wineries would also generate employment for women and create opportunities for the cultivation of other fruits, he said.
"The concept here is to make high-class wines and sell them at very reasonable rates so that minimum effort is needed for selling it," he added.