The Nagpur mandarin, a local variety of orange, is set for export and the first consignment is to reach Sri Lanka by Wednesday. The local variety of the orange, not much preferred by orange processing units because of higher presence of seeds that get crushed along with pulp making it bitter, will also be used to produce orange juice by the Nanded-based Citrus India plant by the end of the month. A seedless variety of the Nagpur mandarin is also in the offing and was brought out by the citus research institute recently.
The Nagpur mandarin, although considered a good variety, was not considered viable for the food processing industry due to bitterness caused by the seeds, but Citrus India, the Indian subsidiary of Swiss giant Citrus International (CI), has the technology to overcome the problem, sources said.
No serious effort was made by the government earlier to boost exports of this orange variety. The defunct Orange Export Centre at Karanja (Ghatge) in Wardha district has restarted operations and the first export consignment was flagged off on November 10 by Union Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who played an important role in the efforts to export the local orange variety.
“We have been making efforts to export the Nagpur orange, considered the best by many, without much success. The only experiment by late Vasudeorao Deshpande from Varud in Amravati district about 15 years ago did not make any headway. Meanwhile, a few years ago, the state government set up the Karanja centre that never worked. But with Gadkari and State Co-operatives Minister Chandrakant Patil taking the lead, it was restarted. We sent the first consignment of 26 tonnes,” Shridhar Thakre, Executive Director of Maha Orange, a federation of orange co-operatives in the region, told The Indian Express.
The state government has handed over the Karanja export centre to Maha Orange to operate.
“The centre cooled the oranges to six degrees Celsius and wax-coated them and stored them in a container with cooling facility. The consignment sailed from Mumbai on November 14 and is expected to reach Sri Lanka on November 18. We have to send five more containers,” Thakre said. According to Thakre, Lanka gets kinos (a citrus fruit variety) from Pakistan.
“We have sent samples to countries like Dubai, Bahrain and Singapore and expect a favourable response,” he said.
Maha Orange officials will tour a few countries to study the markets to formulate strategies for successful and sustainable export.
“It’s very important as all past experiments have failed due to unviability. For now, we have given Rs 18 per kg to farmers for the best quality orange and at the same rate to mediator export firm PCR Agrotech Exporter. We hope to stabilise it by at least achieving no profit no loss,” Thakre said.