What was the market situation?
The green banana (aka Grand Nain or Dwarf Cavendish) is the most trade-responsive banana on the Indian subcontinent. Although it is a popular fruit in eastern India, the supply chain has been rather disorganized. However, through structured ripening units a few corporations have made limited yet impactful interventions to enable the transition from the traditional carbide-mediated fruit ripening process to a safer ethylene-based ripening alternative. As a result, banana farming has become an increasingly attractive alternative for farmers from eastern India’s paddy-dominant farming community.
Keventer Agro Limited is the food processing business unit of the Keventer Group, a Kolkata-based conglomerate with business operations in a wide variety of industries. Keventer Agro operates in the dairy, bananas, frozen foods, food commodity exports, beverage franchising, and hospitality brand franchising sectors. Keventer is keen to play a more significant role in the banana trade (beyond ripening and distribution), which is why it began working directly with banana farmers in West Bengal to improve the quality and quantity of the fruit they were supplying.
Sunil Kajaria, CEO of Fruit & Vegetables, Keventer Agro Limited; Ranjan Pandey, Food Chain Manager, Bayer CropScience Limited
What was the solution?
In this Food Chain Partnership project Keventer and Bayer joined hands to achieve these qualitative and quantitative goals. Keventer helped farmers access tissue-culture Grand Nain plantlets with their high vigor and adaptability to varying climatic conditions. This was supported by a robust plant protection schedule which Bayer developed on the basis of trials conducted in house and across project locations with the aim of effectively managing various pests and diseases prevalent in the target geographies. Moreover, a team of agronomists from Keventer and Bayer regularly trained the farmers in accurate pest and disease scouting, the best timing for application of plant protection products, and the implementation of sound agronomic practices to ensure good yields of the desired quality. Documentation of the entire process was conducted through manual passport entries and digital monitoring tools, such as SmartFarm. High sustainability standards were ensured through implementation of the BayG.A.P. program and a corresponding training package covering topics such as IPM, the safe use of plant protection products, application technology, and food safety. Last but not least, Keventer took care of the harvesting process, with harvested bananas to be transported in suitable packaging to the company’s ripening units.