In 2018 HollandDoor started a 3-year project in India in collaboration with the Center of Excellence (see Launch protected cultivation vegetable project). The main objective is to increase awareness, understanding and finally acceptance (as well as investment willingness) of greenhouse farmers and other value chain stakeholders to promote sector developments. This three-year programme is funded by the Dutch government through the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).
In the week of 17 April, the Training-of-Trainers project moved from its base at the Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Vegetables in Baramati to Nashik to have its fourth meeting. Previous meetings were held in October and November 2018 and January 2019. The training focus has shifted from tailored training of participants to training module development by participants on various themes connected with greenhouse vegetable cultivation and value chain development.
Based on the needs of the participants, these trainings are developed and implemented by Dutch experts in combination with inspiring and illustrating field visits to further deepen the already vast knowledge and experience of the trainees. In January 2019 we visited the distribution centre of BigBasket in Pune, a very fast-growing online retailer within India which targets major cities.
After the visit to BigBasket, a mini-symposium was organized with a keynote speech by Mr. Rupesh Syal, BigBasket’s Business Head in Pune. Another speech was delivered by Mr. Vilas Shinde, Chairman and CEO of Sahyadri Farm, a large farmer producer organization and one of the leading table grape exporters of India. The mini-symposium was concluded with a lively discussion on possible strategies and interventions needed to develop Indian greenhouse horticulture and value chains. Moreover, Mr. Shinde invited the project to visit Sahyadri Farms during the next training.
To accept the invitation of Mr. Vilas Shinde, the last training from 17 to 19 April was moved from Baramati to Nashik and on Thursday we visited Sahyadri Farms. In addition to what we emphasised already during all the other trainings, the main message of Mr. Shinde was that clustering of farmers is absolutely necessary to create a position in the highly demanding market. Training farmers and creating an operational process regarding food safety, tracking and tracing is the second requirement. Furthermore, market positions in all segments in the market must be created – from export to local market segments, including processing.
The trainees were astonished by the post-harvest collection and distribution centre, where besides grape export various vegetable and fruit processing lines are also installed. This allows the centre to handle the complete supply of the farmers associated with Sahyadri Farms. The modern cooling, packing and processing facilities and processes are comparable to those of Western import and export companies. After the tour, an in-depth discussion followed with Mr. Vilas Shinde, addressing the latest developments within Sahyadri to start up its own fruit and vegetable stores throughout India and its vision for greenhouse vegetable production.
In the coming months, the trainees will continue their work on the development and implementation of training modules which will target greenhouse vegetable farmers and other stakeholders of primarily the state of Maharashtra.