LUCKNOW: Amid the nationwide lockdown, when most economic activities have come to a grinding halt, Varanasi brings a glimmer of hope. For the first time, a farmer of Kashi region has exported four tonnes of green vegetables including chilli, cucumber and gourd to London via Delhi.
According to Varanasi divisional commissioner Deepak Agrawal, an air-conditioned truck laden with four tonnes of farm fresh veggies, produced in the farm of Anil Kumar Rai of Ghazipur, an eastern UP district adjoining Varanasi, left for Delhi on Tuesday.
He said that the consignment was slated to leave Delhi airport by air cargo to London on Thursday.
Agarwal expressed confidence that the new opportunity would open up markets for vegetable growers of the Varanasi region not only in London but in Europe also. In the past, he said the export of fresh vegetables was limited to the Gulf countries only.
Earlier, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), in a bid to promote exports from agriculturally prosperous regions of the country including Uttar Pradesh, had sent the first trial shipment of vegetables from Varanasi to Dubai by the sea route in December last year.
Gauging the potential of export of fruits and vegetables from Varanasi and districts around it, including Mirzapur, Bhadohi, Ghazipur, Jaunpur and Chandauli, APEDA had started setting up agri-export hubs in the region.
Notably, last year, APEDA had chosen Varanasi, the high profile parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to organize an export promotion programme and buyer-seller meet attended by over 100 farmers of the region and exporters from Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and parts of UP.
In the presence of APEDA chairman Paban Kumar Borthakur, the conference provided a platform to give exposure to farmers and vegetable growers of the Kashi region and also link them to prominent exporters.
As per the divisional commissioner, their interaction with the exporters sensitized the farmers of the region to grow export-quality variety of fruits and vegetables. Fresh vegetables and Fruits Exporters Association (VAFA), Mumbai, had also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with four Farm Producers Organisations (FPOs) for sourcing of fresh vegetables and fruits for export to international markets.
The produce consolidated from the FPOs is processed and packed at a cargo facility in Rajatalab in Varanasi. The facility was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2018.