After bringing a social business model for the apple growers in Uttarakhand, Shri Jagdamba Samiti, a Rishikesh-based non-governmental organisation, has chalked out plans to set up a foundation to mobilise the investment, with an aim to build the economically viable enterprises of food value chain with focused approach of producing, storing, collecting and distributing the pure and healthy food.
Himalayan Fresh Produce, an Indo-Dutch joint venture, had been procuring apples in the Yamuna and Tons valley of Uttarakhand after setting up the state-of-the-art control atmosphere storage (CAS) facility in Nogoan of Uttarkashi district. CAS was set up by the company in 2012.
Apples can be easily stored in this green facility for nearly six-nine months with a capacity of 1,000 tonnes.
An investment of Rs 15.5 crore came from Stichting Het Groene Woudt (SHGW), a Dutch family foundation with the technical assistance of Fresh Food Technology, a company from Holland for setting up the storage facility. The local logistics and organising small farmers collective were provided by the Shri Jagdamba Samiti to start the apple business, which is based purely on a social business model where the shares of all the company would eventually be transferred to farmers. Joint venture started at 10:90 share holding pattern with farmers collectives and SHGW foundation.
L P Semwal, head of the Jagdamba Samiti and director of Himalayan Fresh, said Himalayan Fresh Produce pay around Rs 50-55 a kg to farmers for procuring apples. The apples are sold to various companies such as Mother Dairy in the market at the rate of Rs 90-110 a kg, said Semwal. Operating expenditure and utilities costs about Rs 15-Rs 20 a kg.
The gross earning of Rs 20-Rs 30 a kg has been utilised so far to pay additional premium prices to farmers - Rs 5 a kg.
Some of the guiding principles of the project clearly say farmers are not merely beneficiaries but are also shareholders of the company and represent the farmers' interest in the board of companies with understanding of real market negotiations of agricultural business to improve their quality and scale of production to sustain their market share and enough livelihood opportunities.
The apple project consists of six decentralised apple collection and per-cooling centers in the Garhwal region. Farmers are encouraged to join the collectives, through which they can process and sell their produce jointly at better price. This is the first complete cold chain of apples set up by all the associated joint ventures of farmers and social investors where apples picked, collected, pre-cooled, transported on refregreted trucks and stored in control atmosphere according to the European standard. The procedure leads to keep the apples fresh and juicy when they reached to market.