For the first time, fresh figs from Purandar taluka of Maharashtra’s Pune district with GI tags have been exported to Europe. The Purandar Highlands Farmers Producers Company (PHFPC) has managed to successfully export a consignment to Germany. The export was facilitated by the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB). Fresh figs from Purandar is highly perishable, has never been exported before this.
Rohan Ursal, chairman of the FPC, said the first shipment was sent to Pilz Schindler GmbH, located in Hamburg, Germany. He said the farmer producer company has been working for the last two months on improving the shelf life of the fruit. Fresh figs while being a rich source of nutrients, are highly perishable; their quality deteriorates within hours of being plucked. Over the last two months, the FPC has been conducting trials with StePac, a packaging solution company from Israel, as well as Bayer Crop Sciences’ food chain department. After preparing and following specific protocols in packhouse tests, the figs can be preserved in perfect condition for 15 days.
Following the success of this consignment, the farmer producer company intends to begin working on full-fledged exports to Europe later this year and also tap the Pan-Asian market, Ursal said. The company is also building its presence in the domestic market and has been able to send shipments out of Maharashtra through air cargo to markets of Hyderabad and other areas. Established in January 2021, Purandar Highlands has been working in the segments of fresh figs and custard apples. The company has been sending figs under the ‘Super Figs’ brand name to seven states, including Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Cochin and Hyderabad. Sahyadri Farms of Nashik, Tata Trent Hypermarket and other supermarkets are also sourcing the fruit from Purandar Highlands.
At present, the FPC has been processing one tonne figs on a daily basis, and is working with 260 odd farmers. It intends to expand operations to include more farmers, besides inviting retail chains to to set up pack houses in Purandar Taluka, he said. Turkey is the largest producer of figs in the world with 0.3 million tonnes. The total production of fig in the world is roughly 1.26 million tonne.
In India fig farming is mostly done in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The total area under fig cultivation is around 5,600 hectares and about 13,802 tonne of the fruit are produced. Figs are cultivated on around 400 hectares in Maharashtra and about 4,300 tonne of fresh figs are produced. About 90-92% of these figs are produced in Pune district. Poona figs are widely available in the Purandar area. The fig season occurs twice a year from May to June and December to January.