The Indian Gherkin Initiative

Higher yields, produce quality, and growers’ profits

What was the market situation?

Gherkin cultivation and processing started in India in the early 1990s and currently covers over 19,000 acres (nearly 8,000 ha) in the three southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh, where ideal conditions prevail: adequate water supplies, temperatures of 15 – 36 °C, and the right type of sandy loam soil. Gherkins take 85 days to reach harvesting maturity. Productivity is around 3 – 4 metric tons per acre. Although the growing season is all year round, the best months are February – March and June – August. Nearly a million people in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu work in cultivating and processing gherkins, which are then pickled in organic vinegar before being exported in bulk containers – 80 % of the output to Europe and 20 % to North America.

Although the Indian gherkin industry has recorded average growth rates in excess of 20 % during the last few years, yields were not improving in the Gajendragad region and importers were still facing residue issues from the plant protection products applied. In 2008, Bayer got involved in this Food Chain Partnership project by organizing training sessions on pest and disease identification, food safety topics, and improving productivity by adopting good agricultural practices.

Ken Agritech is one of the top five gherkin-processing companies in India and exports produce to market leaders in Europe, Russia, the USA, and Australia. Ken Agritech provides all the input to the gherkin growers and buys back the produce at pre-agreed prices. All Ken Agritech’s raw material is procured through a contract farming system involving around 3,500 smallholders and marginal farmers.

left: Jayaramu JT, Bayer; right: Pramod Menon, Ken Agritech

What was the solution?

Bayer developed a season- and region-specific plant protection protocol to control sucking pests and downy mildew. Demo trials were conducted in all growing locations and seasons. A nutrient management company has been involved in providing nutritional technology knowhow, and two biological companies have been supplying parapheromones for biological management of fruit flies through annihilation of the male population. Many training sessions have been organized to teach Ken Agritech staff and growers to identify, monitor, and manage pests and diseases in gherkins, and to safely handle the respective plant protection products.

For further information download the brochure on the right margin.

Bayer Division Crop Science

Food Chain Partnership
Phone: +49 2173 38 48 28
Fax: +49 2173 38 33 83

The Indian Gherkin Initiative

Higher yields, produce quality, and growers’ profits

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