INI Farms, part of the AgroStar Group, has shipped its first container of ‘Kimaye’ pomegranates to the United States through the sea route. Travelling nearly 20,000 kms, this is the longest distance travelled by any Indian fruit in the world, the company said.

Pomegranate shipment through the sea route is the result of more than year-long joint efforts of APEDA, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Agriculture Govt of Maharashtra, Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB), United States Department of Agriculture APHIS (USDA APHIS), NPPO, Pomegranate National Research Center (NRC) and INI Farms. This encompassed various initiatives from farm registrations, training & monitoring, air shipment trials, development of sea protocol, static trials for shelf life extension and post-harvest treatment, the company said.

The container consignment of 12.6 tonnes of ‘Kimaye’ pomegranates was flagged off by Rajesh Aggarwal, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Abhishek Dev, Chairman, APEDA, at MSAMB’s Irradiation Facility Center in Vashi (Navi Mumbai) on Wednesday.

India is the world’s largest producer of pomegranates, with over 2,75,500 hectares of land under cultivation. During the fiscal year 2022-23, the country exported over 60,000 tonnes of pomegranates to UAE, the Netherlands, Oman, Bahrain and others.

The successful export of pomegranates to the US opens up a new opportunity for Indian pomegranate farmers and exporters and will open doors to other long-distance markets like Australia.

Rajesh Agarwal, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, said, “There is a huge opportunity for exports for the Indian agriculture industry. India’s unique agro-climatic conditions combined with the vast diversity of F&V offerings and our ability to grow produce around the year give us a unique advantage in the global F&V trade. Such initiatives are connecting Indian farmers to the world and this will massively benefit both parties as global consumers will get the opportunity to enjoy Indian produce and as a result, Indian farmers will prosper with the help of access to global markets. This initiative is a good start and a testament to the growing Indo-US relations.”

Abhishek Dev, Chairman, APEDA. said, “Fruit exports from India have been growing steadily over the last few years. We are seeing 29 per cent year-on-year growth in fresh fruit exports and pomegranate alone is growing at 20 per cent year-on-year and has the potential to grow further in the coming years. This initiative is a collaborative effort from the production side, the exporter and the buyers. We are grateful to the efforts of the USDA officials who helped us implement the right practices. We also developed sea protocols which have helped us build a 60-day shelf life of the product and preserve its quality. With the success of this first commercial sea trial shipment of pomegranates to the US, we are hopeful that it will open up many more opportunities for F&V exports to the US.”

Pankaj Khandelwal, Co-CEO, INI Farms, said, “We are proud to be the pioneers in the industry to ship pomegranates to the US. This milestone is part of the continuous efforts of the entire INI Farms team that has helped put the Indian Farmer on the world map by making great quality Indian fruits available worldwide.”

Michael Schreuder, Dy Principal Officer, US Consulate-Mumbai, said, “This is a landmark day for India-US trade as this consignment of pomegranates commences its journey via a 37-day journey by sea. This initiative is also a demonstration of the growing bilateral relations and trust between the two countries.”