CategoriesHealthy Foods Tips & Tricks

Women farmers take up Chikoo Processing in Dahanu Bordi

Women farmers take up Chikoo processing in Dahanu Gholvad Bordi

India wastes a significant amount of its agricultural produce due to weak cold chain infrastructure, poor post-harvesting facilities & lack of cold storage capacity. In 2022, India lost 5–13% of its fruits and vegetables between harvesting and consumption.

One such fruit that has a higher than average (20%) wastage percentage is Chikoo. Dahanu Gholvad Bordi has been the center of Chikoo horticulture in India for over a 100 years now. This region gets 3-4 harvests of Chikoo fruit every year, the peak season being November to March. Wastage of ripened fruit on farms is a major setback to farmers since this fruit cannot be packed and sent to markets nor there is any large scale industry that processes chikoo fruit in other forms like pulp, jams etc.  

Over 30 years ago one innovate women from Bordi Gholvad Ms Sharada Gajanan Patil took upon the baton to ensure the fruit ripened on farm is processed into multiple products like dry slices, powder, pickles, fruit bars etc. Her effort was supported by Ms Latika Achyut Patil and along with 8 other women from the region they formed “Amrut Madhuri” a women’s co-operative group to collectively process the fruit on their farms and make various products out of it. 

The basic process was to dry the fruit in thin slices and then use them as an ingredient for the products that they made. The region of Dahanu Gholvad Bordi being a beach destination near Mumbai attracts a lot of tourists. This helped Ms Sharada & Ms Latika to gain a small but captive market. The progress was slow due to lack of farm based processing equipment and also quality assurance was an issue. Looking at this small but innovative initiative other women from the region also started adapting this process to curtail losses and ensure they got some income from this activity.

In 2012 Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation along with Konkan Bhumi Prathisthan and support from local farmers started the “Chikoo Festival ” to boost tourism in this region and create visibility and marketing avenues for Chikoo fruit and its byproducts. This gave the local women and farmers a guaranteed avenue to sell their processed fruit. Many more farmers and women started processing the fruit. 

In 2016 Ms Latika Patil, her husband Achyut Patil and their son Ninad Patil collaborated with Science for Society Technologies Pvt Ltd (S4S Tech) a startup based in Mumbai to implement Solar Conduction Dryers for processing of Chikoo. The results were amazing with notably the below mentioned enhancements – 

  • Drying process time reduction from 3 days to 8 Hrs

  • Shelf life increase from 5 months to 12 months

  • Nutrients in fruit retained over 85%

  • Dried Chikoo Slices were soft, creamy and light brown in color compared to a dark and uneven texture in the earlier process

  • Dried Chikoo could be easily ground into powder form

With this innovation in process and product quality Ms Latika Patil scaled up the production from 60-70 kgs a year to 400 kgs per year. There is no looking back for Ms Latika Patil and many women like her from Dahanu Bordi now. The demand for dried chikoo is continuously growing. They have formed a marketing company “Ruwan Foodtech LLP” which sells Chikoo and many other fruit products under the brand “Aura Green”. If you happen to travel to this region make sure you visit their on farm processing center and experience how a small innovative initiative over 3 decades ago is driving economic wellbeing of farmers in the region. 

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