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The concept of Farmers collectives was originally conceived to overcome the challenges of farmers who operate on a stand alone basis. This began as Farmers Cooperative societies which did not really succeed due to certain inherent reasons. Later from the beginning of 2000 the concept of Farmers Producers Companies started becoming popular and with the amendment of the Companies Act in 2013, it paved the way for large scale promotion of FPCs. In the beginning the thrust was on aggregating the input supply of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides besides group hiring of farm machinery, etc., as there was plenty of financial benefit from the economies of scale due to bulk procurement of the inputs. Gradually the activities moved on to aggregation of produce for bulk sale with or without sorting and grading which also contributed to higher margins to the individual farmer. It is when the FPCs took up processing of the produce before actual sale that the farmers started really benefiting because of value addition. To exemplify this aspect the case of a one FPC in Rajastan which was encouraged and promoted by a well known national level NGO called Srijan has been studied in detail and this paper captures the case study on the Ghummar Mahila Custard Apple Pulp Producers Company.

Custard Apple Value Chain development

To make a livelihood out of the custard apple value chain, SRIJAN explored the technologies of extraction and preservation of custard apple pulp and promoted a tribal women enterprise namely Ghummar Mahila Producer Co. Ltd. (GMPCL) which is running a successful business model on custard apple value chain. All the benefits from the purchase of raw fruits to profit from the marketing of the pulp go to the very native inhabitants of these forests. After two consecutive successful seasons at Pali, this intervention was expanded in adjoining sub-location in Kotda block of Udaipur and replicated by SRIJAN in 2015 in Chindwara location of M.P. Many other NGOs like Vrutti and Seva Mandir have also taken the support of SRIJAN for establishment of Custard apple value chain in their working areas. Initially, 8 Village level collection center (VLCCs) were started where women were trained for Grading, Plucking, weighing, sorting and natural rejuvenation associated with custard apple grown in the wild. More than 800 Women plucks raw custard apple from the wild and sells it to VLCC thereby earning approx. Rs. 2500 in a period of 30-35 days. All the records are maintained in the VLCC books and Individual member’s passbook. Women help in day to day activities at VLCC and in CPU (Central Processing Unit) where fruits are re-weighed in CPU and kept in rooms where they are naturally ripened in 2-3 days. Later the Women sort ripened custard apple based on their appearance/texture and scoop out pulp from the fruit. Outside peel is sent to the Compost Pit. Scooped Pulp is Sent to Pulper (mechanized Unit) where seed gets separated from the whole pulp. Seeds are washed and sundried for preservation for after-sales/Natural Plantation. To prevent it from the bacteria attack the whole process works on a continuous basis (Like conveyer belt). Processed Pulp is then packed into a 1 kg standard packet and blast froze under -35 degrees Celsius for 8 hours. Frozen pulp is moved to cold storage and marketed/kept for more than one year under -16 Degree Celsius. More than 1000 women are involved in the value chain where close to 200 women got employment in the CPU and approximately 850 women sell raw custard apple pulp in the VLCCs. A net income enhancement of Rs. 2500 is provided through this Custard apple value chain in a period of 35-40 days.

Major Stages of Custard Apple Value Chain

The major stages of custard apple value chain and the technologies used therein are detailed below:

Procurement: Ghummar formed 10 VLCC (Village Level Collection Center) in the villages with dense plants of custard apple after thorough discussions in SHGs, Clusters and Federation. All the women of those villages got orientation and training about the plucking, grading, and weighing of the raw fruits. These collection centers are run and managed by the clusters (village level institution of SHG women) of the respective villages. The weighing, grading, and loading-unloading of the crates are done by the SHG women at the centers. A Collection Center In-charge (woman) is appointed at each collection center for record-keeping and coordination with the route in charge. The rate of raw custard apple is based on the grading of the fruit which is almost double the price the other agents give. The quantity of total raw fruits to be collected at all VLCCs has to be restricted based on the daily intake capacity of the processing unit. We have to shut the collection centers at the time of the peak of the harvesting season. The fruits are collected from all centers in a loading vehicle and brought to the processing unit on the same day to avoid any damage from over-ripening.

Processing and Hardening: The fruits purchased at all collection centers are brought to the processing unit at Nana. There the raw fruits are kept in the rooms for ripening and the ripened fruits are sorted and sent for the processing regularly. The very first stage of the processing is scooping the pulp with seeds from the fruit. This pulp with seeds is processed in the pulp extractor and the extracted pulp is packaged in packets of 1 kg each. The packaged pulp is frozen in the blast freezer in 10-12 hours at the temperature of -30 degree centigrade. All the stages of processing from scooping the pulp with seeds to hardening of packaged pulp are to be completed instantly in a very short time to avoid any bacterial growth in the pulp. All the women of Ghummar who work and manage the functions in the processing unit maintain utmost hygiene and cleanliness by using hand gloves, head caps, apron, and masks to ensure the purity of the pulp.

Cold Storage & Marketing: The frozen pulp is stored in the deep freezers which are later on shifted to the rented cold room at Udaipur. The pulp can be kept preserved for two at the temperature of -18 degrees centigrade for 2 years. Custard Apple Pulp is mostly used in preparing custard apple ice cream, sitafal shake, sitafal ice-cream and basundi (a Gujarati dish) in states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. The pulp is packaged in the corrugated boxes and transported in the refrigerated vehicle or insulated boxes above the distance of 200 km to keep it frozen. Initially, SRIJAN staff explored the food traders in Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh and connected them with Ghummar. Most of the parties have become permanent buyers of Ghummar


Ghummar Mahila Custard Apple FPC has shown that value addition is not always a complicated and simple value addition technique is possible which will give sufficient benefit to the FPCs and to the farmers.