Agriculture start-up firm Trident Agrocom has tied up with the National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB), Tiruchi, to create community initiatives for banana growers. These include educating them on storing, packaging, tackling germs, pricing, crop inputs and technology, the Mumbai-based company’s chief operating officer (COO) Aryamman Agarwaal has said.
“Such an initiative will help the entire value chain of bananas besides getting them on to a tech platform,” Agarwaal told businessline in an online interaction.
In order to give a fillip to Indian bananas in the global market, Trident prefers to take up initiatives such as tissue culture, educating farmers on global standards, government interventions and bringing consistency in the value chain.
“We need bodies such as NRCB across the country dedicated to Banana research and incubation. However, public-private partnerships are required for better results for farmers as there needs to be an economic sense and international guidance from top private players,” the company’s COO said.
Agarwaal said India has a big opportunity in the banana market due to weather conditions and regions such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Interestingly, Trident began its initial shipments to West Asia on a free-of-cost basis that it would receive payment if the quality was good.
“This worked and the company exported 25 containers in 2015 to 100 containers per month (25,000 tonnes of bananas a year) in 2022,” he said.
Set up with the objective of putting Indian bananas globally in every hand and making India the top banana exporter, Trident is a bootstrapped firm that aims at reaching the fork from the lab.
The company grows the fruit on its own farms of 1,000 acres in Maharashtra. It has also engaged growers through contract farming.
Besides, the company has ventured into fertilizers. It is being distributed free of cost to farmers working with it.
Trident has set up its own packhouse at Shelgaon, cold storage and warehouse at Bori, besides another warehouse in Tembhurni — all in Maharashtra.
The start-up has hired ex-employees of US firm Chiquita and Irish company Fyffes as consultants to expand its knowledge and deepen expertise in the banana value chain, the COO said.
The company has tied up with an Italian research and development firm to become a leader in banana exports and has joined hands with a global tissue culture producer, he said.
D2C pilot project
“We believe in empowering the entire banana value chain and uplifting it the same way the Philippines did to revamp its process to sell bananas,” Agarwaal said.
One of the company’s efforts will be to impress the policy makers and regulators to come up with a policy and provide pricing power to farmers, he said.
Trident, which also exports guavas and kiwi fruits, plans to enter the direct to consumer (D2C) segment using agri wastes to create sustainable textiles.
“We have done a pilot project where T-shirts were made from agri wastes for farmers. We also plan to enter D2C products,” said Agarwaal, whose father Aaloke, the CEO, launched the firm in 2015.
One of the regrets of the company is that though the country is the largest producer of bananas, it exports hardly four per cent of the total production. “Peru, and Ecuador export the most in the world due to high standards across the value chain. Most of Indian exports go to the Gulf and Iran,” he said.