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    Published On : Mon, Dec 7th, 2020
    Latest News / News 2 | By Nagpur Today Nagpur News

    The Sweet Story of Nagpur Orange – Orange ‘factories’ run by farmers for farmers!

    When in North India, wheat, paddy and sugarcane farmers are in turmoil and agitation mode, the farmers of Warud – Jarud are busy in their humungous Orange factories busy packing and dispatching oranges, all the way to Bangladesh!

    It is an open secret that what the world calls the Nagpur orange is grown primarily in this tract of Amraoti district. In fact, despite many hurdles like depleting ground water, lack of a Railway station, no irrigation facilities Orange Orchards are the life line of most farmers of this area. A guaranteed cash crop. Though Oranges were not indigenous to this area but brought by 3 enterprising men from Jalgaon- Bhusawal, the Warud Jarud farmers have become experts in Orange cultivation.

    Till just 5 years ago, they had a unique system, which unfortunately wasn’t very beneficial to farmers, for selling the ripe orange. Merchants from all over India would camp in this area year round keeping a hawk’s eye on the orchards. They would estimate the quality, quantity etc of the fruit and purchase the whole ” bageecha” from the farmer at a lump sum amount. How that amount was calculated was anyone’s guess. It used to be a gamble on both sides but the winning cards were held by the purchasers. If an unseasonal storm or unanticipated pest/ fungus attack came before the orchard was sold it was a total loss to the farmer. Becuse of the high risks involved many had begun cutting down their Orange trees and reluctantly begun turning to more traditional crops like Cotton and soybean.

    Till the Central govt ( run by Dr Manmohan Singh) and state government offered a Scheme called ATMA to make farmers more self sufficient in Orange procurement and packaging.

    Under this scheme, a Co operative pattern Corporation was formed with hundreds of farmers as ” share holders “. One such Corporation is the Utkranti Agro Producers Company in Jarud. President of Utkranti is Ramkrishna Chindhuji Meshram, Secretary is Dr Ashok Khope and it has a CEO even, a local man, called Gajendra Takarkhede. It has 850 farmers as ” Shareholders” who have put up equity of Rs 6000/ each. ” Initially farmers were reluctant to come on board but we managed to persuade them. Now everyone is happy with the system”.

    Utkranti’s premises for Orange processing are 22, 000 square feet, built at a minimal cost of just Rs 1 crore. Within the premises is a machine that automatically loads, washes, dries and then waxes the oranges before segregating them by size. Then they are manually packed into cartons ready for despatch. It is at this stage that merchants come in to purchase and deliver the oranges not just all over India but to Bangladesh as well.

    “Everyday 3 to 4 farmers bringing in their oranges by the truckloads. We pay them asap not waiting for further sale to merchants. We do a turnover of Rs 30 crores approx annually. Our largest farmer has been paid Rs 16 lakhs till now for just this year’s produce!”

    Another Orange factory based in Warud is SNOCO run by Nilesh Magarde.

    His corporation also has hundreds of farmers as share holders.

    He sells directly to Companies such as Big Basket, Reliance Fresh etc.

    ” When Orange growers grievances were first nationally expressed , spurred by Govt agencies many Corporates like Tatas, Reliance Industries visited us and expressed interest but no further development happened after that!

    Now we have taken our destiny into our own hands.

    We are truly Atma Nirbhar!”

    Expresses Nilesh.

    Sunita Mudaliar
    Reporting from Warud

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