INI Farms, part of the AgroStar group, has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with LuLu Group International to build a direct farm-to-retail partnership for the Indian Cavendish bananas. This is a further extension of a long-term partnership between the two groups already working on pomegranates and guavas to take the Indian fruits to the supermarkets and hypermarkets of the LuLu Group in the Middle East.

The MoU was signed on January 23 and the first container was flagged off from INI Farms’ packhouse in Baramati to LuLu Group, UAE.

Purnima Khandelwal, CEO, INI Farms, said: “This MoU is a significant milestone not just in the journey of INI Farms, but also for banana and guava farmers across the country. We are excited about the prospect of directly servicing a highly reputed global retailer like LuLu and ensuring the highest quality of Indian bananas and guavas from our farms to their retail shelves.”

Shardul Sheth, Co-founder and CEO, AgroStar, said: “INI Farms has gone from strength to strength over the past few years. Last year, we witnessed landmark developments like the first Indian consignment of our ‘Kimaye’ branded bananas being shipped to the Netherlands and becoming a pioneer in the industry to successfully ship great quality pomegranates to the US among other achievements. Our collaboration with LuLu Group International is yet another important milestone and a testament to our capability to be able to supply F&V products of global quality standards to marquee retailers and end customers around the globe”.

Salim MA, Director, LuLu Group International, said, “This MoU is not just a trade deal, it is about celebrating the rich agricultural diversity of our nation and supporting our hardworking farmers. LuLu Group International aims to be the pioneer in sustainable agriculture and set new standards in quality and innovation. We have been working with INI Farms for close to a decade and this MoU further strengthens our collaboration. ”

Sudhashu, Secretary, APEDA, said the MoU signing and flag-off event marks a historic moment for the Indian agtech industry, representing a leap toward making banana exports the first billion-dollar fruit out of India in the next couple of years.

Banana exports from India have witnessed exceptional growth, achieving a 50 per cent CAGR over the past five years. Projections indicate that India is poised to export over 25,000 containers, equivalent to more than 5,00,000 tonnes of the fruit, in the fiscal year 2024. This success story has significantly impacted farmers, creating over 10,000 direct rural jobs, contributing to an ecosystem that encompasses the supply chain, rural infrastructure, transportation, and earning over $300 million in foreign exchange.