INI Farms is a vertically integrated branded fruit company. With its flagship products of banana, pomegranate and Fresh Cuts, INI is at the forefront of bringing ag-tech to Indian agriculture and has built large scale operations spanning contract farming, aggregation, supply chain management, and serving retailers in 35 countries
Pankaj Khandelwal is the Chairman and Managing Director of INI Farms, which he co-founded with his wife, Purnima, in 2009. Krishi Jagran had an interaction with Pankaj Khandelwal. Here are the excerpts from the interview;
Krishi Jagran: In which areas of Rajasthan do you plan to expand your base? Barmer has emerged as the pomegranate hub in Rajasthan recently, is this area under your project?
Pankaj Khandelwal: Yes, we work with farmers in the Barmer district, alongside some other regions as well. Since the last financial year, we have been sourcing our pomegranates directly from a farmer-based company called Shiv Kisan Producers Company, located at Budiwada, near Balotra in the Barmer district. The region has around 465 pomegranate growers that cover up to 22 villages. We have sourced around 400 MT pomegranates directly through FPC Budiwada and some quantities from other farmers in the Balotra region.
As per the 2019-20 state government data, there was more than 5500 hectares of area available for pomegranate cultivation in the Barmer district. Hence, we are planning to expand our activities in other potential areas of the district. Through our technology-driven practices, farmers can not only increase productivity and fruit quality but receive a better price realization for pomegranates.
In addition to this, we are also exploring the possibilities for quality pomegranate production in the Jalore district, Rajasthan. It currently has more than 3500 hectares under pomegranate crop production.
According to you, what is the secret behind the success of Rajasthan farmers in pomegranate cultivation?
PK: Pomegranate fruits require arid and semi-arid region for cultivation and have the ability to withstand harsh climate and tolerable heat, drought and moisture deficit situations. This makes pomegranate ideal for cultivation in Rajasthan. With the help of drip irrigation facility and modern harvesting techniques, pomegranates crops are showing huge potential for growth in the region. The state’s atmosphere also eliminates excess use of pesticides. With the implementation of the PPP model, farmers can receive proper training in the technical knowledge for pomegranate cultivation along with the expertise to grow export quality pomegranates. With its favorable climatic conditions for pomegranate cultivation, Rajasthan has the potential to become the pomegranate capital of India.
Is pomegranate cultivation a temporary switch or do you see a long-term involvement of farmers in this fruit crop?
PK: There is a huge potential for quality pomegranate production at Rajasthan; therefore, we want to build up a long-term relationship with the pomegranate farmers of the state. A collective effort would be required from the government and agricultural institutes to transform the quality of pomegranate production.
There is a scope for an alternate market of providing quality fruits which in turn, would increase the net income of the pomegranate growers in Rajasthan.