December Issue, Statewide Arunachal Pradesh
The North Eastern State of Arunachal Pradesh always brings a picturesque location adorned with natural beauty, ethnic tribes, and a refreshing experience. At the same time, it also brings to mind the challenges faced by the “land of the dawn-lit mountains” owing to its topography. And yet the state is the first one to have the first all organic kiwi winery in the country set up by the efforts Tage Rita. MaumitaMazumdar finds out more.
Kiwis have always been considered an exotic fruit. India has been importing a total of 6000 tons of Kiwis every year from New Zealand, Italy and Chile. This exotic fruit was never been thought to be indigenous, while it has been growing in the backyards in wild in Arunachal Pradesh. Kiwi production in Arunachal Pradesh is around 9,428 metric tons of which lower Subansiri district produces 2,500 metric tons.
“Kiwi Farmers were not finding a market for their produce until two years back when I saw on my own the fruits were being rotted on the ground or fed to cattle and pigs. Kiwi orchards were abandoned by the farmers,” informs Tage Rita the brain behind the production of this exotic beverage.
“I am a farmer’s daughter and this was a very bad sight for me personally.I understood their hardships and I want to uplift them through my venture,” she further adds while interacting with Northeast Today.
With a degree in B. Tech in Agricultural Engineering from NERIST (North Eastern Regional Institution of Science and Technology) Arunachal Pradesh, Rita initiated the idea of winemaking because of her lovefor different kinds of wine, love for the exotic fruit and to preserve the fruit in its best form and taste.
As Rita informs her venture has introduced a renewed movement for cultivating kiwi in the valley. Farmers are back to their gardens and nurturing kiwi trees.
“I also see many more fresh cultivation starting in the cultivable yet barren lands surrounding the valley.The winery, in fact, has created a scarcity of the fruit in the local market now,” she further says.
Kiwi fruits cultivated in Arunachal Pradesh are of high aroma and flavour, thus producing a very crisp and fresh kiwi wine. It was launched in 2017 in Arunachal Pradesh and has proved as an “Innovative Achievement”. On its launch day, the CMD called it “farmer’s pride”. Bottled up under the label of NaaraAaba by the LambuSubu Food and Beverages Ltd., at Hong Village Ziro in LowerSubansiridistrict, in Arunachal Pradesh, “very positive about its taste and acceptance worldwide“.
In fact, the wine has already found its admirers in the international market owing to its unadulterated quality. It was sent to Shanghai as a sample in the Expo by APEDA.The wine has been sent to Japan also.
“We received a very good response in both,” Rita expresses her happiness to Northeast today.
The wine was commercially brought into market in April 2018 in Guwahati.And the first consignment of the wine will be exported to Assam on early December next, which will be made available for wine lovers in the Northeast. As per information, a large bottle of Naara Aba retails at Rs1200 in Arunachal Pradesh and Rs1500 in Assam, while the smaller bottles are priced Rs600 and Rs800 respectively in the two states.
The winery has a capacity of 40,000 litres and can accommodate all the Kiwis grown in the entire state. It is the second organic kiwi winery in the world after Switzerland and the first in the country. The technologies have been imported from Denmark and Nashik. The Bottles are being imported from China.
More than finding a perfect bottle for the exotic drink it was difficult for Rita to get them transported to Hong Village,Ziro in LowerSubansiri district. Transport and communication is one major area yet to develop in the state.
There is no cold storage facility for fresh fruits in the winery yet. Had there been one it would have been easier to produce three to four batches in a year and also import raw materials from neighbouring and nearby states.
One primary constraint was that of investment.The venture is purely undertaken on a bank loan and has not received any kind of financial support from the Govt until now. Thus LambuSubu Food and Beverages Ltd. has made itself investor friendly and is happy to welcome investors from Arunachal as well as the other Northeastern States.
Another difficulty faced while establishing the winery as Rita shared, it was “stressful and draining to get all the paper works done in different offices.There should be single a window clearance policy adoption and ease of doing business be made more aware of everywhere.”
This is a huge push to the wine production sector of the hilly state and would also augment the economy of the state.It has generated a huge potential for self-employment through farming.A sustainable source of livelihood for the kiwi growers, there are about 300 kiwi growers contributing to the winery.
There are 25 regular staffs employed for the farm, factory and marketing.There are also 100 seasonal employs involved in manual jobs required in the production process.The entire production process involves a lot of manpower and hence has an employment opportunity for young and old has been generated in the due course of this venture. The production process contributes revenue in the state exchequer in the form of various fees and bills etc. It has a tremendous export potential.
“Perhaps wine production could give its biggest impact in the form of increased foreign and domestic tourist’s inflows,” adds Rita.
Drinking and brewing wine is a tradition of the tribal culture. What was not practised before was a long time preservation. This gap has been filled by the initiative of Rita. The state’s economy which is dominantly agrarian would find the addition of a new realm to it. The diverse topography of the state offers ample opportunity in the cultivation of diverse crops. Horticulture has a vast potential owing to good agro-climatic conditions and topography for the development of varied types of fruits and vegetables. And hence efforts to develop orchards would prove beneficial for the economy of the state. Moreover being strategically located with close to south Asian countries like Myanmar Bhutan and China it could also cater to international trade opportunity.