India emerges as largest exporter of cucumber, gherkins in the world

Published on : 04:34 PM Jan 23, 2022

In terms of volume, the country exported 1,23,846 tons of gherkins in April-October last year while for the full year the volume of cucumber and gherkins exceeded 2,23,000 tonnes, valued at around $223 million.

New Delhi: Maintaining a strong performance in farm export this year, India has emerged as the world’s largest exporter of cucumber and gherkins (a small cucumber that is pickled as a whole), said the government.

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In terms of the value of the export, India exported gherkins worth $114 million in April-October last year, while the value of the export during the entire FY 2020-21 (April-March 2021 period) was in excess of $200 million.

In terms of volume, the country exported 1,23,846 tons of gherkins in April-October last year while for the full year the volume of cucumber and gherkins exceeded 2,23,000 tonnes, valued at around $223 million. Advertisement

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Agriculturally processed product, Gherkin, which is globally referred to as pickling cucumber or cornichons, has shown strong export growth last year.

In order to double the country’s farmer’s income, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government launched the country's first-ever farm export policy in December 2019. Thereafter, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, started a series of projects to promote the export of farm produce from the country. These initiatives included the development of infrastructure, geo-tagging of fruits and vegetables, and ensuring access to the global market through market intervention.

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The Gherkins are exported under two categories - cucumbers and gherkins, which are prepared and preserved by vinegar or acetic acid, and cucumbers and gherkins, which are provisionally preserved.

India currently exports cucumbers and gherkins to more than 20 countries, with big shipments going to North American and European countries. Importing countries include the USA, France, Germany, Australia, Spain, South Korea, Canada, Japan, Belgium, Russia, China, Sri Lanka, and Israel among others.

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India supplies nearly 15% of the world's requirement of these two farm commodities.

Officials said apart from its export potential, the gherkin industry plays a key role in the creation of rural employment.

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India exporting cucumbers since the 1990s

Cultivation, processing, and export of cucumbers and gherkins started in India during the early 1990s with a modest beginning in Karnataka. Its cultivation later extended to the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.

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According to official estimates, the cultivation of gherkins is carried out under contract farming by around 90,000 small and marginal farmers with an annual production area of 65,000 acres.

Export of processed food

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According to officials, processed gherkins and cucumbers are exported in bulk as industrial raw material and in jars as ready to eat.

Bulk production still occupies a high percentage of the gherkin market. Officials said more than 50 big companies are producing and exporting gherkins in drums and ready-to-eat consumer packs.

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On average, a gherkin farmer produces four tons per acre per crop and earns about Rs 80,000 with a net income of Rs 40,000.

Gherkin has a 90-day crop cycle and the farmers take two crops annually. India has established processing plants of international standards to cater to the requirement of foreign buyers.

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