Swiss beverage company Citrus International AG has finally chosen Nanded in Maharashtra for setting up a fruit concentrate plant at an investment of Rs 150 crore.

The company will manufacture concentrate from orange and sweet lemon. For sourcing the fruit locally, the company has tied up with Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board. When the company approached the State Government in early 2009, it was given a choice of over 10 locations across the State to choose from, said senior Maharashtra Government officials.

“It first chose Amravati but later it found that the location was not suitable for its business. Now the company has chosen Nanded as it gives location advantage for procuring fruit from Maharashtra as well as Andhra Pradesh,” one of the officials said.

Nanded district is low on the Human Development Index. That is one of the reasons that the project, which has the potential to provide employment to about 1,000 people, has been the status of a mega project under the extant industrial promotion policy of the State, officials said.

Oranges and sweet lemon come under the citrus family of fruits. They are grown extensively around Nagpur and in large areas of Vidarbha and Marathwada which are well-known for their dry-land agriculture.

According to the National Horticulture Board Web site, one third of the national area under citrus fruit cultivation and about half of the national production comes from Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

An industry observer said that the region around Nanded has good potential for fruit juice and concentrates production, given the easy access to raw material. “It makes sense for a company like Citrus to invest here, as it would be able to lessen its climate change risk. They will also be able to cash in on the fact that globally people are moving from cola drinks to fruit juices,” the observer said.

rahulw@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 11, 2011)
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