Announcement of a food processing unit in Srinagar follows the valley’s GI-tagged saffron finding space on the shelves of the UAE’s supermarkets
Kashmir has been the flavour of the season in the UAE and its agricultural products have proved to be the icing on the cake. Days after the Geographical Indication (GI) tagged Kashmir saffron was launched in the country for the first time, Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group International on Thursday (December 10) shared its plan to set up a food processing centre in Srinagar.
All this happened on the sidelines of the India-UAE Food Security Summit, organized here on December 8-9, in which a 20-member delegation from Jammu & Kashmir participated. This was the “largest-ever” delegation from J&K to the UAE.
During a meeting with this delegation, Yusuffali MA, Chairman of Lulu, lived up to the commitment he had made during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the UAE in 2019. “Lulu Group is fully focused on sourcing a wide range of Agri products from J& K,” he said.
The Kashmiri delegation was headed by Navin Kumar Choudhary, Principal Secretary (Agriculture Production and Horticulture) Government of Jammu &Kashmir. Lulu already imports apples and saffron from Kashmir and is set to significantly boost it in the coming years.
The group says it has imported more than 400 tons of Kashmiri apple till date despite the challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Food Security Summit 2020 was organized by the Consulate General of India Dubai in association with Invest India and an industry body CII.
According to Yusuffali Lulu Group is one of the leading importers of food and non-food products from India and setting up of a new food processing and logistics centre will further boost the export of Kashmiri products to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and other countries in the region.
Navin Kumar Choudhary said a large number of decisions were taken during the meeting to promote the export of agriculture & horticulture products from J&K to entire Gulf region using stores of Lulu group.
Choudhary assured all help to Lulu group for setting up logistic facilities and offices at identified facilities in the union territory of J&K. It was agreed that there is tremendous scope to increase apple export from J&K provided quality and grading are maintained.
The Lulu Group CMD welcomed the request made by the Principal Secretary to export extremely perishable products like cherry, plum and pear through charted cargo planes. The Lulu Group has also taken the initiative to host a J&K special fortnight at all its supermarkets across the Gulf region on the occasion of Republic Day 2021 as part of Incredible India.
The fortnight-long celebration will begin on January 24th and will showcase J&K’s famous products like cuisine and its cultural heritage.
The discussions also focused on exploring the possibility of the direct passenger as well as regular cargo flights between Srinagar and Dubai. On this occasion the largest retail store of the Lulu Group in Dubai was decorated in Indian colours and a large number of Indian products including those from J&K were showcased, giving them a place of prominence.
An MoU was also signed between Lulu group and Fruit Master Agro Fresh J&K for the supply of apple and other fruits for the Lulu Group supermarkets across the Gulf region.
Jahangir Hashmi, Additional Secretary, Horticulture Department of Jammu and Kashmir, Neelu Rohra, Consul (Commerce), CGI Dubai, Ananth A.V, LuluDirector, Salim V.I, Chief Operations Officer, Salim MA, Director of Lulu and other officials attended the signing ceremony.
The two sides also acknowledged J&K as an important export destination from India of fruits, vegetables, saffron, honey, spices and other products like trout fish. Speaking on the occasion, Consul General of India in Dubai, Dr Aman Puri, congratulated Lulu group for announcing a host of initiatives and achieving the target of doubling J&K’s exports. And, expressed his gratitude for the initiatives which would generate employment opportunities for local youths in J&K and contribute to the economic development of the region.