What is the Philosophy Behind ‘Farm to Fork’?
Well, it is changing the concept of farming and taking the world into residue free environment says Nilesh Palresha, Director, VTP Group & Earth Food.
Being natural in the most hygienic, healthy way possible is the mantra for life. And this has been very well adapted by Earth Food which is producing its own range of fruits and vegetables grown in the purest form without using pesticides and sold to the customers without adding preservatives and synthetic food enhancers.
“Farmed in a natural way, Earth Food is a product of VTP Foods offering fruits and vegetables grown without using harmful chemicals and produce are residue free,” says Palresha.
So the notion behind ‘Farm to Fork’ concept is to include everything from farm to table in the most natural way known to man. The process of growing the produce starts from crop selection-land preparation-seed selection-seed sowing-irrigation-crop growth-harvesting-grading and packaging-transportation-retail outlets or customers. It is a food system in which food production, processing, distribution and consumption is integrated to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health of a particular place.
Earth Food has taken residue free farming to another level. “We believe food should be nutrient-rich and healthy, that’s why we produce in an eco-friendly way. We use a healthy mix of traditional methods and innovation to keep pollution and wastage to minimum. Most importantly, we ensure it is minimally touched by humans to avoid adulteration. This, we believe, not only makes it healthy for you, but also for the environment,” says Palresha.
In residue-free farming, Palresha explains the use of organically derived biocides and bio-fertilizers to protect crops and enhance growth. The vegetables and fruits at the farm gates are safe for multiple reasons, the key being that majority of pesticides used are not residual in nature and hence ensure that the produce is free from any harmful chemicals. Unlike synthetic chemicals and pesticides, the residue free farming method works explicitly against particular pests without injuring any other organisms in the process. They also effortlessly integrate into the ecosystem thereby not leaving any toxic residue.
According to Palresha, Earth food is the only brand in India which supplies global standard vegetables and fruits in domestic market. The others, which practice GAP to produce vegetables and fruits are exported. So 0.6% area in Maharashtra is used in GAP vegetation. The market revenue is raised to 25 crore in the year 2008, then 175 crore in 2013. It is growing 18.3% every year in terms of GAP agriculture market. GAP vegetation has a great scope in the coming years due to the change in mindset of people about consuming healthy and fresh produce.
“Our prices are very competitive and are according to the Pune grocery market. Hence, it will not get affected by the flexibility of the change in market price so that our customer can afford throughout the year. Hence, we are available across all major retail stores in Pune including Dorabjee, Nature’s Basket and Food Plus. We also have an option of online order through the website. We have consistent supply in 52 weeks in a year and 3 days in every week.”
Earth food has received internal funding from its parent company VTP Group. However, the company is looking to raise money from external sources in the coming years. “We have 300 acres of land and we are planning to expand to 1000 acres in 3 years. Having said that we have invested in transportation for delivering our products directly to our customers,” adds Palresha who plans to dedicate 60% land to fruit plantation and 40% to vegetable in near future and has forayed into regular vegetables and masalas, planning to saunter into Bangalore and Mumbai market.
While technology has seeped into the farming industry, Palresha feels that easing workload of farmers and saving them from venturing into challenging conditions to monitor crops, adaptation of innovative methods is a must. “We have adopted modern technology like green-house, mulching paper, drip irrigation system, fertigation, ifm-integrated fertilizers management, ipm-integrated pest management, residue free production, packaging material, global gap standard pack house, trace-ability code, reefer van, round the year production, rain water harvesting, high density plantation, contour farming, waste land utilization, bio diversity, farm management software, farm waste management etc, all of which are aiding us to maintain our quality and serve customers healthy, wholesome and nutrition rich food for a good lifestyle,” he says.
So how far has the concept been accepted? Pat comes the reply, “Our USP is our quality and I’m thankful to Puneites in adapting this concept. We have a detailed end to end process to maintain health and hygiene of every product. We follow the holy practice of GAP for farming and after that it is sorted and graded and packed hygienically in our pack house and transported in the reefer van (temp. 2 degree to 10 degree) maintained. So in this way we ensure the quality assurance and the freshness of the vegetables,” he feels, being one of the very few organizations who grow, package and brand vegetables unlike most others who buy from different sources, pack the product and sell in the market.
Earth Food offers a wide range of products from English vegetables like iceberg lettuce, broccoli, red cabbage, cherry tomato, thai chilli, lemon grass, basil, pakchoi, celery, parsley, zucchini, oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc, to Indian vegetables like capsicum, bitter gourd, sponge gourd, French beans, lady finger, bottle gourd, curry leaves, green peas, mint, drumstick, beetroot, green chili, tomato, turmeric and chili powder.
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