Maersk integrated cold chain logistics solutions move agro-produce from Varanasi to Jebel Ali

Maersk, the leading global integrated logistics company, recently successfully delivered its first end-to-end shipment of freshly produced green chillies from Varanasi to Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates (UAE) within 9 days. The company worked closely with Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the apex organisation under the Ministry of Commerce and  Industry, responsible for the export promotion of agricultural products, to enable trade opportunities in the state via land and sea routes. The delivery is a testament to Maersk’s efforts to unlock the agro-trade potential in Uttar Pradesh and expanding across the country by leveraging end-to-end cold chain logistics solutions, said a release.

The eastern part of Uttar Pradesh (Varanasi region) comprising 5 districts—Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Chandauli, Mirzapur and Sant Ravidas Nagar, which are some of the top producers of fresh fruits and vegetables such as green chillies, okra, bitter gourd, green peas, brinjal, mango, guava, etc. present an immense opportunity for the farmers and entrepreneurs in and around the region to boost agro exports. Considering these enormous trade prospects offered by the region, APEDA is in the process of setting up agri export hubs in these districts along with a soon-to-be set up project office to fast track the coordination and facilitation of all activities.

Mr Steve Felder, Managing Director, Maersk South Asia, said: “The economy of Uttar Pradesh is predominantly agrarian and performance of agriculture and allied activities such as horticulture, animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries are critical in determining the growth rate of the state. Additionally, due to its favourable climatic and geographical conditions, the agricultural produce from the state, especially Varanasi region, enjoys a preferred demand in the global market which is the reason the government has plans to make it an export trade hub. Our initiative to take local produce to global market is in line with our aim to be a global integrator of container logistics connecting and simplifying trade for the farmers and entrepreneurs across the region.”

The shipment was loaded at the facility under the supervision of the company’s reefer expert and flagged off by the Chief Guest, Mr Paban Kumar Borthakur, Chairman, APEDA.  Throughout the journey from Varanasi to Jebel Ali, leveraging the Remote Container Management (RCM) technology, the temperature of the cargo was accurately maintained at the level recommended by the reefer expert with proper tracking of the container movement and spot-on coordination with various stakeholders involved in the project. Sensing the tight schedule of the shipment cycle due to the short shelf life of fresh produce and non-availability of export quality packing material at Varanasi, Maersk ensured the deployment of an additional driver for inland transportation.

By delivering on ensuring that the chillies reached its destination in top quality, ensuring on-time delivery and by taking responsibility of the various phases of logistics, Maersk went all the way in making sure its customers were satisfied by the offering from the company, the release emphasised.

Future opportunities in the region
APEDA had also organised an export promotion programme and buyer-seller meet attended by more than 100 farmers from Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Uttar Pradesh during the first half of 2019, to provide a platform to link farmers to exporters. The platform provided a chance to the exporters to understand the potential of the region, and the quality of the vegetables and fruits produced so that they could facilitate the right infrastructure. Furthermore, the government also facilitated Vegetables And Fruits Exporters Association (VAFA), Mumbai to sign a MoU with four Farmers Producers Organisations (FPOs) for sourcing of fresh vegetables and fruits for exports to international markets. The produce of the first trial shipment consolidated from the FPOs was processed and packed at the CONCOR facility, Rajatalab, Varanasi which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Mr  Narendra Modi, in July 2018.

As future enquiries are in the pipeline with an additional route (rail) option, the target commodity is wide ranging (green chilies, okra, bitter gourd, green peas, brinjal, mango, guava, etc.) with focused efforts from the company and government to ensure this to be a year-round movement. The company is in touch with the relevant government stakeholders to help realise the true export potential of the region.