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Indian farmers need to upgrade standards of production: Dutch expert

May 24, 2013

Wim Van Den Berg, Director of the Netherlands-based company, Van Amerongen CA Technology, said that Indian farmers would need to have better contacts with the market to raise their profits.

Wim Van Den Berg

Van Amerongen CA Technology, the Netherlands-based company, with specialisation in special storage and atmosphere technology, is an affiliate of Fresh Food Technology (FFT), a Dutch firm that has set up a fairly large cold storage facility for the small and marginalised apple farmers in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand. In an interview with OneWorld South Asia, Wim Van Den Berg, Director, Van Amerongen CA Technology, talks about the value that a modern supply chain brings to farmers.  Excerpts from the interview.

OneWorld South Asia: What is the role of FFT in establishing the agri-value chain for the apple farmers in Uttarakhand?

Wim Van Den Berg: FFT was instrumental in setting up the cold storage plant and the logistics. When we visited the apple areas of Uttarkhand, we realised that the collection of the fruit would be the most difficult part so we started by setting up collection centres where the apples are sorted, weighed and pre-cooled. And, to add value to the collected apples by preserving them during the off-season, we established a central storage facility in Nagaon area of Uttarkashi district.

Our role, essentially was to integrate the technical parts which we accomplished by listening to farmers and knowing the markets. We were attracted by the traditional apple supply chain in India, which presented itself as a good business proposition, and improving the economic lot of the farmers was an additional advantage.

OWSA: In which parts of the world have you provided this kind of technical assistance?

Berg:   We export our equipments to more than fifty countries including Africa, South America, North America and Australia, apart from other destinations. In India, this is for the first time that we are assisting for the agri-value chain for apples with the help of local farmers and NGOs.

Our global experience tells us that we need to know, exactly, what we are talking about. So, we have to listen to the customers and the producers before heading for the project. Ascertaining the specific needs of different countries of the world is a challenge. Every part of the world has its own requirements like growing conditions, markets, transportation etc.

OWSA:   How will the setting up of such cold storages empower the small apple farmers?

Berg:  Such facilities could help farmers in reaping higher profits only if the Indian farmers upgrade the standards of production and improve the quality of agricultural produce. The Indian apples should be in a position to compete with apples from China, Iran and the United States (US).

OWSAWhat kind of training should be imparted to farmers so that they are able to make the most of such facilities?

Berg: Since, the apple project eventually aims to make these farmers the owners of such facilities, they will have to be more aware about the dynamics of markets. They would have to find sales people and efficient operators who could run such facilities.

In future, the responsibility of the farmers would not just be limited to bringing the apples to the collection centres. A farmer should know what is happening to his apples in the market and be ready for honest feedback. Farmers need to have better contacts with the market through the latest means of communication and should develop the process to manage the chain efficiently for maximising profits.

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