Vijayawada: Famous Andhra Pradesh pesticide-free chilies are all set to make the international debut.

The horticulture department in Andhra Pradesh has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ITC for a public-private-partnership (PPP) to export quality, pesticide-free chilies to different countries.

The partnership aims at making Andhra Pradesh a global hub for chili sourcing and utilizes strengths of both parties to develop an institutional framework for chili production and delivering the latest technologies to the farming community.

Horticulture commissioner Chiranjiv Choudhary said that the project was started on a pilot basis in Kurnool district on an area of 500 acres which was scaled up to 10,000 acres in 2019 and 25,000 acres in 2020.

The initiative is planned for four key chili producing districts — Guntur, Kurnool, Prakasam, and Krishna — with an objective of reaching 1,00,000 acres of cultivation in five years and make AP a global hub for chili sourcing.

Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of chili in the country with three lakh farmers dependent on the crop. However, there is still immense opportunity to improve quality through pre and post-harvest interventions.

Teja and Guntur Sannam varieties grown in Guntur-Prakasam-Krishna region make Andhra Pradesh the leader in chili production in India. Byadagi chili grown in Karnataka has a tremendous demand in the global market.

Chili production generates Rs 6,500 crore per annum in the country. India continues to be the global leader in chili production and export. Andhra Pradesh tops the list of chili-producing states.

The focus of the partnership with ITC is to disseminate good agriculture practices and customized crop advisories to improve chili crop competitiveness in terms of productivity, quality, and sustainability, reduced cost of cultivation, and better market linkages to ensure increased farmer income on a sustainable basis in Andhra Pradesh

Horticulture officials said `Chili Farm Value Chain Development' programme is a classic example of a scalable PPP model which has established a market-linked production system ensuring a sustainable increase in farm income.

For 2020-21, the project is helping 10,064 farmers from 77 villages, cultivating chili in 25,000 acres and following a horti-cluster-based approach, where an ecosystem of 35 technical partners has been formed under the e-Choupal IAEP umbrella.

In 2021, over 48,000 tonnes of chill is expected from the project for which market linkage is being worked out to facilitate higher prices for produce. A plan to develop a brand for the chili produced in the project the area is also in the pipeline so that it can be placed separately in the market to maintain its identity and realize better prices.

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