1. Commodity News

Pre-cooling unit increases the Shelf Life of Strawberries

Abha Toppo
Abha Toppo

Construction of a pre-cooling unit by a farmer in Mahabaleshwar, which is known as the strawberry belt of Maharashtra could be a big boost to the farmers in the region. So far, despite a strong demand from other states, growers in the Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani belt were not able to cater to these requirements as strawberry is a perishable fruit and has a short shelf life of hardly two days. The new unit established by Kisan Bhilare, Head of Mahabaleshwar Cooperative Fruits, Flowers and Vegetable Buyer Seller Association at Wai has started benefiting several farmers in the region.

After initial success by setting up a small pre-cooling unit at a local school in Mahabaleshwar, Bhilare invested in a 4-tonne pre-cooling unit at Wai after demand from several corporates as well as traders. With the launch of this new unit, now the farmers can easily store their strawberries here. The shelf life of strawberries has also gone upto 4 days with the pre-cooling and blast freeze facilities. Bhilare said the facility is given to the farmers on a lease of `5/kg for 4 hours and at present four tonne are being processed regularly.

He added that demand has emerged from Reliance Fresh, Big Bazaar, Big Basket and traders from Kolkata, Jharkhand, Guwahati and Delhi whereas neighboring Jaipur has shown interest in obtaining strawberries. He told that strawberries are sent via air to Guwahati, Kolkata, Delhi and Jharkhand and by road to Goa, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

He also said “An expression of interest has come from Saudi Arabia and we are in the process of clearing the paperwork adding that if the paperwork works out, farmers from Mahabaleshwar will be able to send some 700 - 800 kg strawberries by air daily to Saudi Arabia”.

This year, strawberry has been planted on 3000 acres, which is almost 200 acres more than the previous season. Bhilare said the crop is good this time and the yield can go upto 200 kg /acre. Currently, some 4 pre-cooling units are in operation in Wai and Bhilar and growers are getting `200 /kg for their produce.

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