Road shipment of Ladakhi apricots should lead to reduced costs, drive demand

The Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh has reached a major milestone by distributing apricots across the country by road for the first time.
Apricots are the main income crop for farmers in Ladakh, famous for its rugged terrain and high desert, and they are exported to different states by road, thanks to FastBeetle Logistics Pvt Ltd, a Jammu and Kashmir-based startup that specializes in providing logistical support. .
On July 27, the first batch of Ladakh apricots, claimed to be the sweetest in the world according to your correspondent, was transported by road from Leh to Mumbai, with horticulture secretary Ladakh Ravinder Kumar delivering the top shipment. first.
The government says trucking will reduce domestic prices of apricots and stimulate demand, thereby giving incentives to farmers in Ladakh.
“The reduction in costs will increase demand in the domestic market. For example, transporting apricots by air costs Rs 60/kg, compared to just Rs 5/kg by road. This will ultimately benefit farmers as well as consumers,” said Sheikh Samiullah, CEO and co-founder of FastBeetle. The start-up, which focuses on last-mile logistics in the J&K and Ladakh union territories, has so far sent 8 tonnes of apricots to hubs in Delhi and Mumbai, from where the fruit will be shipped to other locations. different states. “We are proud to provide logistical support to Ladakhi dream and our company looks forward to a future partnership in the thriving Ladakh region,” Samiullah told Moneycontrol.
Zakir Hussain Zaidi, CEO of Halman Apricots, a four-year-old Ladakhi company that markets apricots – known locally as chulli – and other local fruits, told Moneycontrol that because apricots are perishable properly maintained cold chain in the vehicle. That fresh product is delivered to the consumer. “We maintain an optimal temperature of 2 to 4 degrees Celsius in the vehicle and the crop is transported cool,” says Zaidi. Ladakh is the largest producer of apricots in India with an output of 28 tons, accounting for nearly 60 to 70% of the country’s total production.
“Demand for Ladakhi apricots is always high but transportation is a barrier. These apricots are world famous because they are organic apricots as farmers do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides,” says Kumar.
Dried apricots, known locally as phating, are also known for their sweetness and are one of the main products traded here. In September 2021, the first batch of apricots was exported to Dubai (via Mumbai) after nearly 50 long years.
In addition to the UAE, Ladakhi apricots have been exported to other Middle Eastern countries such as Oman and Qatar. Last year, test shipments were sent to Singapore, Mauritius and Vietnam.
Some of the important varieties of apricots grown in the cold Ladakh desert include halman, raktsey karpo (the sweetest of them all), safaida and khanteh (mostly used in juices and jams because it doesn’t have a lot of sugar. ). The Halman variety is grown commercially, while the rare Raktsey Karpo variety is not grown on a large scale because the yield is not very high.

“Only 2,000 kilograms of raktsey karpo were produced all over Ladakh and sold immediately,” said Zaidi. In December 2022, raktsey karpo received the IG (Geographic Indication) label. The GI label certifies that a product originates from a particular territory, with a certain quality, reputation or characteristic associated with the geographical origin of the product. According to Zaidi, the area has a large production of halman nuts, which sell for between Rs 250 and 280 per kilogram. He said last year Ladakh exported 31 tons of this type and this year exports about 51 tons. Recalling Zaidi, Mr. Kumar added, the total area planted to apricots is about 2,303 hectares. Ladakh’s nutritious apricots hold an important place in local culture, and dried and fresh apricots are used in desserts served during traditional festivals. According to local tradition, apricots were introduced about a century ago from China or Central Asia. This famous fruit is known for its high content of vitamins A and C, in addition to calcium, iron, carbohydrates, amino acids, sugar and potassium. About 40 years ago, the prevalence of caterpillar larvae on apricots forced the government at the time to ban the export of the fruit to prevent the pest from spreading to apples in the Himachal Pradesh and Cashmere valleys. . Experts say this butterfly lives in the cold and arid Ladakh region. Two years after Ladakh became a union territory, the authorities lifted the ban and started exporting apricots to domestic and international markets.