Kerala gears up to export bananas to European market through sea

By Express News Service KOCHI:  For the first time in the state, a select group of banana farmers in Thrissur have undertaken the cultivation of 'Nendran' bananas, while adhering to specific protocols that are aimed at solely exporting their produce to European markets.Also for the first time, the bananas are being transported via the sea instead of by air as was the practice. The move will bring down the export cost from Rs 80-100 per kg to Rs 10-15 per kg.

Vegetables and Fruits Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK), the nodal government agency coordinating with the farmers for the project, has tied up with Tiruchirappalli-based National Research Centre for Bananas (NRCB) to train farmers on the protocols that need to be followed right from production to the harvesting of the bananas. "By air, the bananas reach customers in Europe within 24 hours of shipment. A cargo sent via the sea takes up to 30 days. So, we need to follow certain quality standard protocols to ensure the bananas reach customers in Europe fresh.

We are expecting to export our first consignment of 14 tonnes of bananas in April next year," said VFPCK project director Abdullah Hashim. 

He said right from harvesting to packing, there will be strict quality protocols and that include packing the bananas in zero moisture and airtight containers.  "We aim to export 5,000 tonnes of Nendran bananas from Kerala to Europe every year once the project becomes a success.

Farmers will benefit from the project as their revenue is expected to go up by 20 per cent," said Abdullah.

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