Army officials said the initiative also helped women's empowerment and led to significant job generation in the area.
Turtuk: In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi government's emphasis on "vocal for local", an Indian Army unit in Ladakh has helped apricot producers in Turtuk village near the Line of Control (LoC) to pack and sell their products to enhance their income from farming. Turtuk is famous for two varieties of apricots: Halman and Rakhaikarpo.
"The Indian Army facilitated apricot canning from the produce of the cultivators and enabled the locals of this remote village to realize their entrepreneurial spirit to the fullest," Army officials said here.
They said the success of the initiative can be gauged from the fact that now apricot products such as jam, oil and canned apricots are being sold to tourists on the Leh-Turtuk axis while they are also being used to provide excellent calorific content for the soldiers posted on the LoC in the region.
During a visit to forward locations, the Army chief had also issued instructions to the commanders to engage with citizens living in border areas and empower them. Army officials said the initiative also helped women's empowerment and led to significant job generation in the area. The canning plant has rejuvenated and re-energized the micro-economy of Turtuk Block of villages, enhancing the image of the Indian Army amongst locals.
The initiative's success is also planned to be showcased during the Army Day event scheduled to be held in the national capital on January 15. As per the data issued by the horticulture department in 2017, a significant part of the 15,000 metric tonnes of apricot produce is wasted due to the short shelf life and lack of facilities.
Army officials said the project's total cost was Rs 30 Lakhs, and 100 per cent of the project was financed through soft loans provided by State Bank of India's local branch in Diskit. Processing and packaging were coordinated through Bajaj Processpack Limited in Ghaziabad, and the FSSAI approval was taken post passing the most stringent lab tests of canned apricots.
"In just three months from conception of an idea, Indian Army's Tyakshi battalion commenced the production of Tin Canned Apricots in Sugar Syrup in the last week of July 2021.
Fruit is collected from farmers of different villages in the morning on a daily basis and then subsequently sorted at the canning plant. After the fruit is washed and cut, it is filled in the can with sugar syrup. After completion of canning of fruit, cans are tested for leakage or any damages. To date, approximately fifteen thousand cans have been produced with a total commercial value of over Rs 30 lakh.
"Over ninety farmers and other fifteen civilians from the remote Turtuk region have so far benefited through this novel initiative," officials said.
In all this, six women have been employed, giving further impetus to women's empowerment in the region, helping them become financially independent.