Under a joint venture by the ICAR-NRCB, Tiruchirappalli, and VFPCK, Kerala, a consignment of 10 tons of farm fresh Nendran bananas, was shipped to London on 8 th March in a first of its kind attempt to cater to the needs of Indian expatriates in the United Kingdom. An expert team from the ICAR-NRCB, comprising Dr. S. Uma, Director, Dr. R. Thangavelu, Dr. V. Kumar, Dr. K.N. Shiva and Dr. P. Suresh Kumar provided the technical expertise including developing pack house facility and shipment protocols for Nendran banana to the officials of VFPCK, Kerala. This shipment is expected to reach London well in time for sale in the markets of the UK and Scotland during Vishu, the Malayalam and Tamil New Year, to be celebrated on 14 th April. The ICAR-NRCB imparted hands-on training to banana farmers from Thrissur district on scientific cultivation of Nendran following Good Agricultural Practices to produce export quality Nendran bananas. Handpicked, hygienically harvested bunches were packed and stacked with minimum handling in the reefer containers at the APEDA certified pack house at Vazhakulam, near Muvattupuzha. A QR coded tracking system was developed by TraceX, a Bangalore based startup with technical assistance from ICAR- NRCB and VFPCK to ensure traceability.
Dr. A.K. Singh, DDG (Hort.) hoped that reduced shipping costs by sea to one-tenth of that required for air cargo will make Nendran bananas cheaper for Indian expatriates from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. He highlighted the emerging opportunities for Indian banana exporters due to the decline in yields and exports from other banana producers like Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador due to flood, drought, and fusarium wilt. Dr. S. Uma, Director,ICAR-NRCB, opined that successful execution of this project will provide an impetus to quicker and cost-effective sea exports of traditional banana varieties to European markets and fetch higher prices for farmers. The Agricultural Production Commissioner (APC), Govt. of Kerala, mentioned the potential for exports of 2000 tons of Nendran per year from Kerala via sea in future and the plan to set up a pack house in Wayanad district to upscale the processing, packaging and exports of fruits and vegetables. She appreciated the ICAR-NRCB and the VFPCK for tapping the market for showcasing Kerala Bananas abroad and hoped that farmers would get additional income and orders on a regular basis in future.