After tasting success with their mango farming initiative 'Unnati' launched in 2011, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages and Jain Irrigation are now looking to scale up the venture big time.
The two will invest Rs 50 crore in a phased manner over next 10 years to boost mango production – using the Ultra High Density Plantation (UHDP) technology – by involving 25,000 farmers, holding an area of 50,000 acre.
"Scaling up of the initiative in close association with farmers and Jain Irrigation," T Krishnakumar, chief executive officer, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd (HCCBPL), said, "will result in creation of an ecosystem that delivers higher growth and income for farmers and helps us streamline supply chain and enhance productivity for our Indian brands Maaza and Minute Maid Mango."
HCCBPL is the largest bottling partner of The Coca-Cola Company in India and is part of the Atlanta-based firm's Bottling Investment Group.
Launched with an investment of $2 million, the first phase saw 200 demo farms being set up in partnership with nearly 4,000 farmers. Company executives said the UHDP technology embedded with drip irrigation, on-site training and farm supplement support have been successfully implemented by several farmers, leading to first harvest of mangoes this year.
The second phase will be carried out extensively with farmers in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The initiative will focus on the 'totapuri' variety of the mango, which is mainly used to produce packaged mango juice. This scaled up initiative, company said in a statement, is expected to deliver close to 300 kilo metric tonne fruit by the year 2022-23.
According to industry experts, over two-third of the Rs 5,000 crore-a-year Indian juice drinks market consists of mango drinks.
While juice drinks offer a tremendous business opportunity, the key concern is that the area under mango cultivation is not growing at the same rate.
While India is the largest producer of mango pulp in the world, mango yield is still the lowest, according to Atul Jain, joint managing director, Jain Irrigation Systems.
"UHDP is commonly practised for mango cultivation worldwide and combined with other sustainable agricultural techniques has the potential to yield upward of 200% more produce than the traditional method.
Over the next 10 years, we aim to scale up the project to cover end-to-end fruit supply chain and further optimise delivery," said Jain.
The farming initiative though restricted to mango production at this stage, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages said, it will look into the possibilities of extending the initiative to other fruits as well. "We have a variety of fruit juices under product portfolio and will explore this option for other products in the future," said Krishnakumar.