Nearly 20 years ago, a gold medalist with a master’s degree in agriculture engineering along with his five uncles was struggling to keep his small grape farm afloat. Today, 47-year-old Vilas Shinde’s Sahyadri Farms symbolises one of the biggest success stories in the country’s agricultural scenario with over 13,500 farmers owning about 28,000 acres in Nashik region of Maharashtra coming together to produce over 1,000 tonne of fruits and vegetables per day. With revenue of Rs 525 crore, Sahyadri has become the country’s largest farmer-producer company (FPC) and a role model for others to follow, besides the largest grape exporter. The FPC is developing a retail footprint across the state and is also building a pan-India presence through its e-commerce platform.
Founder and chairman of Sahyadri Farms, Shinde says he is replicating the Amul model in vegetables and fruits. “Sahyadri’s journey as a farmer producer company began with barely 101 farmers in 2011. Now there are 25 FPCs under the umbrella of Sahaydri Farms. I took my learnings as an individual farmer and decided to bring like-minded farmers together so our problems could be solved as a single unit. Amul’s success in milk made us realise that we can do this in fruits and vegetables,” he says.
Sahyadri Farms is the also largest company in the country producing, purchasing and processing tomatoes. Around 60% of Sahyadri Farms’ fruits and vegetables are exported and 40% is sold in India. “We export our products to 42 countries, including Russia, the US, and various European countries,” he says.
During the lockdown, the FPC seized the opportunity to directly reach out to consumers by delivering produce to housing societies with about 38,000 home deliveries a month. Now, besides producing fruits and vegetables Sahyadri is also into manufacturing of different kinds of value-added products of vegetables and fruits such as pulps, dices, fruit juices, slices, ketchups, frozen vegetables and fruits jams under the brand name of Sahyadri Farms at the company’s Rs 300-crore fruit processing plant.
The company has also developed a retail footprint through 13 stores spread out in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik to sell its products. Customers in these cities can also buy on the e-commerce platform. Additionally, retail and wholesale buyers of fruit can make purchases through the ‘Sahyadriyan’ app where products are supplied through 49 Sahyadri Farms distribution centres in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. At present, more than 50 tonne of fruits are supplied daily. This year, Sahyadri Farms wants to expand its presence in the north and east India. The target is to supply 500 tonne on a daily basis and build a pan-India presence in three years. Shinde says the company will invest Rs 200 crore to develop the supply chain and strengthen its backend process. “Like Amul, we will develop our brand nationally and overseas markets as well,” he says.