KOCHI: When the Vazhakulam Agro and Fruit Processing Company Ltd (VAFPCL) was formed for sustainable income generation two decades ago, farmers in Ernakulam had high hopes. Soon, ‘Jive’, a brand of products launched under the collective, became a household name across the state. Despite providing natural varieties of juices and jams, the company eventually closed down over legal issues. However, the revival package of the state Agriculture Department has encouraged a comeback for the indigenous brand which will be releasing a new range of products and services.
The institution has three lines of production units under Jive — concentrates, ready-to-serve items and candy. “Under the concentrates unit, we procure pineapples and other fruits from farmers and convert them into pulp and fruit concentrates. We have also decided to cultivate pineapple in eight acres of vacant space. Although we have spent a considerable amount for the revival, our products will be available at affordable rates,” said Shibu Kumar, managing director, VAFPCL.
As the production unit was dysfunctional for long, the agency couldn’t collect fruits and provide support to the farmers. “Now we have rectified the entire unit and restarted the production on a pilot basis. There is a huge market for pineapple pulp in countries like Israel, Iran and Tunisia. Our unit can process 50 tonnes of fruits daily. We have also launched a peg bottle plant for our juice varieties like orange, guava, pineapple, mango and mixed fruit. The unit can fill 90 bottles per minute. We are also producing syrups like pineapple and ginger,” he said.
The public sector institution has also received the in-principle approval from the state government to start pineapple wine production. A jam processing unit with the support of State Horticulture Mission and Muvattupuzha MLA Eldho Abraham is also coming up.
The agency has received a budget provision of `3 crore for the revival and has brought in several reefer vans for transporting fresh fruits. “We have started an integrated packing house to export fresh fruits and vegetables to the European Union and other countries with the approval of the Union government. Our pilot projects to transport fresh fruits to other parts of the country through the Rajadhani Express has also become successful,” he said.Jive products will soon be available on online platforms like Amazon and Flipkart. The refurbished unit will be jointly inaugurated by Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar and Finance Minister Thomas Isaac in February.
VAFPCL was established in 1998 under the Kerala Horticulture Development Programme (KHDP) with the financial support of the European Union. The production commenced in 2000 and was later handed over the management to Nadukkara Agro Processing Company, a farmer’s collective supported by the state government. The company ran the units till 2012. Due to an agreement violation, the state government took over the unit with all assets and liabilities and made it into a public sector company with a 30 per cent share for farmers. Though the decision led to several legal hassles, it has recently stepped into a revival mode with the support of the state Agricultural Department.