Reds and whites have been around for ages. Now comes an amber one. Fresh and crisp and high on aroma, Arun Kiwi is a wine that Arunachal Pradesh can truly be proud of as it will soon start producing the drink.
Not too long ago, being India's largest producer of the kiwi fruit, the northeastern state found itself in a dilemma as to how to make the best use of it. It was then the idea of making wine out of the fruit dawned on the authorities of the land of the dawn-lit mountains.
"Since we had a problem in marketing the hugely abundant produce, we thought of making wine out of it," Egam Basar, head of the state Horticulture Research and Development Institute, told this visiting IANS correspondent.
The government then invited Pune-based Hill Crest Food and Beverages to come and check the possibility of kiwi wine.
The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding in December 2013 and Arun Kiwi, India's first kiwi wine brand, saw the light of the day in May.
The wine is not yet being sold here commercially here but has become a huge hit in Maharashtra, according to Basar.
The state government has decided to set up wineries here to and become India's newest wine-producing state.
"After Arun Kiwi was launched, the Arunachal Pradesh government decided that wineries should be set up in the state to generate employment and entrepreneurship among youth," said Basar, who is also mission director of the Arunachal Pradesh Horticulture Research and Development Mission.
Given that the fruit is delicate and difficult to transport, it makes sense to set up wineries in the state itself. And so, in order to attract investors, the state government has drawn up a wine industry policy after experts went through similar policies of Karnataka and Maharashtra.
"The policy envisages a single window clearance for issuing licences and providing electricity and water supply for setting up wineries and also granting tax exemption for 10 years. The policy treats wine as a food processing industry," Basar explained.
Apart from various types of kiwis that grow in the wild, the state grows four main varieties - Monty, Hayward, Bruno and Allison. The fruit is mostly grown in the state's West Kameng and Lower Subansiri districts.
With 1,500 metres above sea level being the ideal altitude to grow the kiwi, a hectare of land can produce six to nine tonnes of the fruit annually.
"Around 5,000 metric tonnes of the fruit are grown in around 4,000 hectares of land. Since much of this is new land, it will take at least five years for production to reach its full potential," Basar said.
According to him, kiwi is anti-oxidant, is rich in vitamin C and has a lot of minerals. "Kiwi is a perennial fruit and grows throughout the year. Harvesting is done around October-November," Basar said.
After having got GI registration for the variety of orange called Mandarin, the state is now set to apply for GI registration of Monty, Hayward, Bruno and Allison kiwis.
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