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Apricot fresh fruits, Leh, India

November 25, 2017
Value chain development for Apricots in Leh, India

What is the problem?
The districts of Leh and Kargil in high altitude Indian Himalayas annually produce an estimated 11800 metric tonne (MT) of best quality fresh apricot from an area of about 3400 hectare. Only about 1200 MT is locally consumed as fresh fruit that is highly perishable and has limited scope for transport beyond Ladakh. Thus plenty of apricot is available for value addition. Apricot is one of the most important cash crops in Ladakh. Some of the villages derive nearly total cash income from only this crop.

Dried apricot is an important value added product and annually about 3000 MT of fresh apricots are processed for this. However, the traditional drying methods involving lack of proper harvesting, drying, and grading techniques result in high level of wastages in processing and quality degradation of the end product. Farmers have been producing apricots for generations but never have been able to get the right value and proper market for the products.

What do we want to achieve?
The project of Tata Trusts provides solutions for value addition in the crop of apricot through better post harvesting techniques thereby improving economic benefits of this important cash crop of Ladakh. A major thrust is on improving techniques of sun drying and systems of marketing of dried fruits.

Where are we working?
The project is active in the core area of Apricot cultivation in 8 villages (Nurla, Tia, Temisgam, Saspol, Satsedho, Takmachik, Domkhar and Achinathang) located in lower valleys of Leh district in an area known as ‘Sham valley’.

How are we making it happen?
The project is promoting best techniques through training of farmers and demonstration on the farms. Team of Tata Trusts in Leh is collaborating with partners to facilitate this process. The techniques of drying are perfected by working with the farmers in the field. Improvement in quality starts with the use of harvesting nets so that tender fresh fruits are not damaged while harvesting. Different models of improved driers are used and are being refined continuously.
• Model 1: Wooden framed trays
• Model 2: Protected cage type
• Model 3: greenhouse for drying

What we have achieved so far?
Project has encouraged about 200 farmers so far to follow the improved techniques of drying resulting in farm gate prise increasing from Rs 180 per kg to Rs 350 per kg on account of superior quality product produced by them.

Project has convincingly demonstrated that it is possible to improve the product of dried Apricots by following the package of improved practices of harvesting and drying. The immediate increase in the offered price for the product is a testimony to the fact that such techniques deliver product of the most desirable quality.

What’s next?
The project has successfully demonstrated a pilot for improving the product and market in the project village and has generated a major demand for expanding similar techniques in other apricot growing areas. A massive scale attack of hairy caterpillar that defoliate apricot tress and drastically reduce production is happening in Apricot growing areas. This indicates the need to work across the entire spectrum of value chain to improve and sustainably secure this vital cash crop in Ladakh. The project will expand the scope to include more villages and more interventions to further strengthen the value chains. As this happens, community based institutional structure needs to be established to develop aggregated enterprise around the Apricot value chain.
  • Fully mature fruits of Apricot from Leh, India
    Leh district, Jammu & Kashmir, India India
  • Harvesting of soft fruits of Apricot in harvesting nets
    Leh district, Jammu & Kashmir, India India
  • Traditional wasteful methods of sun drying Apricots
    Leh district, Jammu & Kashmir, India India
  • Apricot drier- model of wooden trays
    Leh district, Jammu & Kashmir, India India
  • Apricot drier- model of wooden trays
    Leh district, Jammu & Kashmir, India India
  • Apricot drier- model of Metallic trays in cage system
    Leh district, Jammu & Kashmir, India India
  • Apricot drier- model of Ladakhi Greenhouse being used for drying
    Leh district, Jammu & Kashmir, India India
  • The final product out of improved systems of drying- The best quality sun dried fruits of Apricots.
    Leh district, Jammu & Kashmir, India India