GHERKIN INDUSTRY - INDIA
India has' today emerged as the origin of the finest gherkin cultivation, processing and exporters to the every-growing world requirement.
Gherkin cultivation, processing and exports were started in India during the early 1990s with a modest beginning in Karnataka State in South India and later extended to the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and now has reached an impressive tonnage of 2,25,000 Mts. and value is around Rs.700 crores. The export of processed gherkin is done by about 51 companies located in Karnataka. Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Gherkins are grown in contact with small and marginal farmers. Currently there are more than 1,00,000 small and marginal farmers who are engaged in the production of gherkins. The contract farmers receive all inputs and technical support from the companies and also the farmers are assured guaranteed buy back of crop at pre-declared prices. Initially processed gherkins were exported in bulk packing and since 2001 gherkins are being exported in "Ready-to-eat Jars".
Gherkin industry in India is today fully oriented and its exports are mainly of two categories :-
Provisionally Preserved (preserved in vinegar, acetic acid and brine)
Preserved in Vinegar
Provisionally preserved: gherkin exports are in bulk form in 220 litres, packed in food grade H.D.P.E. drums (High Density Poly Ethelene). This is later repacked by the importers into smaller, ready to eat consumer packs to suit their consumers' requirement.
Preserved in Vinegar : are ready to eat gherkins which are in smaller packs of jars and cans.
Gherkin industry in India is very well established with exports reaching 2,25,000 metric tones per annum. Exports are to all major countries like USA , France , Germany , Australia . Spain , South Korea , Canada , Japan , Belginim , Russia , China , Srilanka , Israel ,Estona
Russia also buy large quantity of bottled Indian Gherkins.
in India there are about 51 major companies producing and exporting gherkins in drums and ready-to-eat consumer packs.
Gherkins are grown only in South India Where the ideal soil type and the desirable temperatures of not less than 15 degrees Centigrade and not more than 35 degrees Centigrade are found mainly in Karnataka State, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh of South India.
These conditions which are prevalent throughout the year, render this region ideal to take up three crops of gherkins annually.
Little wonder that processing plants of international standards have established here to cater to the requirement of foreign buyers. Over 700 crore worth of Indian Gherkins are exported every year with an ever increasing demand because of the Quality Assurance given by the manufacturers.
Over the years, gherkin farmers in these regions have grown crops several times and as such have acquired skills to produce exportable gherkins to suit the specific requirement of discerning tastes of international consumers.
Gherkins are cultivated exclusively on "contract farming'' basis The entire gamut of activities in the cultivation practices, followed by the farmers, processing standards etc., are adhered to by the Indian gherkin manufacturers to produce very high quality gherkins for the world markets.
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION PROCESS
Gherkin Seeds of only approved quality are issued to farmers, who have been selected as per a well-defined criteria with facilities required for growing the desired quality, as per the international standards. The industry constantly endeavors to employ the best practices in Agronomy, Irrigation, Disease & Pest Control and Post harvest handling to ensure that the best quality raw material is brought to the factory for processing.
Separate research work has been assigned to the University of Agricultural Sciences to undertake research on various aspects of Integrated Pest
Management System and standardization of production technology so as to increase the production, productivity and quality of gherkins.
The company extension staff, support and guide the farmers in crop management throughout the duration of the crop cultivation. The farmers are obliged to produce the crop as per the package of practices laid down by the company. The crop is harvested daily, picked up in small trucks and brought to a collection center for sorting I classification I evaluation etc., which is consolidated and delivered to the factory in the shortest duration of time
The freshly harvest produce is stored at a controlled temperature in a cold room before processing. The fruits are inspected before being fed through the production process.
The production process consists of culling of the fruits to remove unacceptable fruits, machine washing, machine grading and post grading culling. The accepted fruits are filled to the specific weight in washed barrels. Preservative media is prepared as per customer's specifications and then charged into the filled barrels. The preservation process is monitored and controlled according to the media.
In the case of bottling, the gherkins are filled-in jars and cans, topped up with media and then capped. The gherkins are pasteurized & labeled to customer specifications.
QUALITY ASSURANCE PROCESS
Quality assurance systems are meticulously followed in agricultural as well as the manufacturing process. Food safety & Adherence to customer specification is ensured all through the value chain. The final product is checked by quality control before shipment. All the gherkin manufacturing and exporting companies are either ISO / BRC / HACCP certified or possess of all the certifications.