The organic certification to the Kiwi fruit grown from this region was given recently in the month of October by the Mission Organic Value Chain Development for the North-East Region(MOVCD-NER).
Apart from the Ziro valley, the fruit is grown in West Kameng district, Lower Dibang valley district among others in the state. (Credit: The Indian Express)
Over the last decade, the Kiwi fruit production in the Easternmost state of the country, Arunachal Pradesh has made big strides resulting in the state accounting for as much as 50 per cent of the total production of the rare fruit in the country. The classification of the Arunachal’s wild Kiwi as the nation’s only certified organically produced fruit recently has the potential to give further impetus to its production in the state, the Indian Express reported. The organic certification to the Kiwi fruit grown from this region was given recently in the month of October by the Mission Organic Value Chain Development for the North-East Region(MOVCD-NER). MOVCD-NER is a special scheme run by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare for the development and promotion of agriculture allied activities in the North-East region of the country. Certification of a product as organic signifies that no fertilisers, pesticides and other kinds of chemicals were used in the production of the crop.
However, the turnaround in the production of Kiwi in the state has been pretty recent as over two decades back, the farmers of the local region were unaware of the commercial value of the fruit and hardly envisaged the value of the fruit that grew wild in the Ziro valley region of the state. Gyati Loder, a Kiwi farmer and General Secretary, Kiwi Growers Cooperative Society Limited, Ziro told the Indian Express that the farmers in the region used to eat the fruit and feed it to their livestock but had no idea of the commercial nature of the crop and its rising demand in the country and other parts of the world. Loder also said that the fruit was locally known as ‘anteri’.
Loder further said that their local fruit markets were filled with Kiwi imported from other countries but they could not recognise that it was the same fruit that grew wild in their own fields. It was only in the year 2000 that a domesticated variety of Kiwi was introduced as a commercial crop in the state. Kiwi fruit is also known as China’s ‘miracle fruit’ due to the fruit’s origin in China. However, the country which intensively grows the crop and supplies to all the markets of the world is New Zealand accounting for more than 2/3rd of the Kiwi world trade, the Indian Express reported.
What makes the land of Arunachal Pradesh ideal for the production of Kiwi is its altitude which is about 1500-2000 metre high in some parts of the state including the Ziro valley along with the cool climate of the state which experiences winters for more 8-9 months of the year. The farmers of the area, aided by government support, overcame all the initial challenges that came their way while establishing the roots of Kiwi production in the area ranging from inviting companies to market and export their produce to forming a cooperative of the farmers of the area which finally pushed the MOVCD-NER for organic certification.
Loder told the Indian Express that the certification will help the farmers get premium price of their products in not only the domestic but international market as well. However, he added that so far the procurement price of the fruit has registered an uptick and the farmers are in touch with the government to find ways to ensure fair price for the farmers.
Despite increasing its production to over 8000 metric tonnes in a year the state has huge potential for growth as only four percent of the cultivable land has been used for Kiwi production in the state, Tage Rita, an agriculture engineer from the Ziro valley told the Indian Express. Rita also said that the fruit’s demand in different parts of the country has also not fully grown as many people are unaware of the fruit and confuse it with Cheeku. Apart from the Ziro valley, the fruit is grown in West Kameng district, Lower Dibang valley district among others in the state.