01 Sep LEAF to Directly Engage with Idukki Vegetable Farmers
KOCHI: As pesticide content in fresh produce begins to impact farmers and consumers, an Ooty-based supplier of safe and hygienic vegetables is looking to directly engage with farmers in Kanthaloor in Idukki for sourcing carrot and other exotic vegetables grown in the region such as broccoli, lettuce and zucchini.
Lawrencedale Agro Processing India (LEAF) already has tie-ups with about 2,500 farmers in the three Southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, for sourcing and selling vegetables in all the Southern markets.
In Kerala, LEAF, founded by Kannur native P Vijayaraghavan, is also making inroads by supplying hygienic fresh produce in retail stores such as Lulu Mall (Kochi), Elite (Thrissur) and Dhanya Supermarket (Thiruvanthapuram).
“By directly engaging with farmers, we are able to cut the middlemen and provide higher prices to farmers,” said Vijayaraghavan, CEO, LEAF.
With the presence of pesticide residues extremely high in the fresh fruits and vegetables, the company’s ozone wash strives to bring down the residue content in fresh produce to bare minimum levels. The objective is to restore faith in the minds of customers, who are increasingly looking at safe options for their families,” he told ‘Express’.
He said the company’s produce was priced by about 10-20 per cent higher than vegetables at the neighbourhood stores, since the final product is graded and packed to ensure that the vegetable packet maintains all its nutritional value.
“On an average there is a wastage of 25 per cent on vegetables we buy from the next-door stores, which are also high on pesticide content,” he said. He said LEAF’s products would enable modern retailers to gain immensely as the produce reach stores in refrigerated trucks after being cleaned, graded and packed .
The company which manages about 20 tonnes of fresh produce daily is targetting to handle 250 tonnes/day by 2018-19, he said.
“We are also happy to expand our established post-harvest management platform to neighbourhood small retailers of fresh produce. Through our hub-and-spoke model, we have ensured that the neighbourhood retailers do not have to run to a wholesale market early every morning to procure fresh produce,” said Vijayaraghavan.