Ziro's Kiwi revolution: A New Zealand-India partnership takes root

Itanagar: A collaborative team consisting of 8 members from the New Zealand High Commission and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare concluded their three-day field visit to Ziro in Lower Subansiri on Tuesday.

The purpose of their visit was to assess the potential for enhancing kiwi fruit production and associated value chain activities in the North Western and North Eastern Himalayan region. Arunachal, along with Himachal Pradesh, had been selected by the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare ministry to conduct this feasibility study.

The eight-member team comprised individuals with diverse expertise, including Field Research Manager from New Zealand, Daniel Black, programme manager, Dr Stephanie Montgomery and MIDH consultants from the Ministry of Agriculture, Chirag Bhatia and Shiva Reddy. Additionally, the team included BG scientists from ICAR Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR)-CITH, Dirang, Wasim Hussain Raja and Supreetha, MIDH consultant Boker Riba and district horticulture officer Benjamin Pertin.

During their three-day visit, the team, in collaboration with local stakeholders, explored opportunities for knowledge exchange and technology transfer to enhance kiwi fruit production in Arunachal.

They also conducted extensive field visits to various kiwi orchards in the Ziro valley which allowed them to interact with local farmers, sharing training and pruning techniques commonly employed in New Zealand.

The team also made a visit to the Government Horticulture Nursery in Ziro.

Following these field visits, a meeting was held with local kiwi farmers, chaired by DHO Hibu Dante, where the team discussed the challenges and concerns faced by kiwi growers in the region.

The kiwi experts recognised the potential for mutually beneficial cooperation between New Zealand and India in kiwi production. They identified the Hayward, Monty, Bruno and Allison varieties of kiwi as suitable for promotion in both countries due to their compatibility with Indian climatic conditions.

Other key findings from the team’s assessment were that farmers in the region required comprehensive training in kiwi fruit cultivation techniques, including pruning and management, to enhance fruit quality and productivity.

The team opined that it was essential for farmers to focus on improving the size of kiwi fruits to meet national and international standards, thereby increasing marketability and profitability.

The team commended the practice of organic cultivation in the Ziro valley, highlighting its sustainability and environmental friendliness as a unique selling point (USP) in the market.

They also acknowledged the dedication of kiwi farmers in Ziro, “who overcame the challenges posed by the region’s difficult terrain”.

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The delicious kiwis of Ziro received appreciation for their potential to garner favorable consumer feedback and succeed in the market.

During their visit, the team also toured the Naara-Aaba kiwi winery and met with Lower Subansiri deputy commissioner Bamin Nime at Subansiri Sadan.

Notably, New Zealand produces 558,000 metric tons of kiwi fruits annually, while India produces 6,047 metric tons, with Ziro valley contributing 852 metric tons to India’s production. This collaborative effort between New Zealand and India aims to further enhance kiwi fruit production in the region.

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