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FRUITS & VEGETABLE

Amhi Shetkari, Annadaata new attractions at Chikoo Festival’s 7th essay
Wednesday, 06 February, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Shraddha Joshi, Mumbai
Amhi Shetkari (We Farmers in Marathi), a platform for farmers to showcase fresh local produce, and Annadaata, a dedicated food section, were the new attractions at the recently-concluded seventh edition of the Chikoo Festival, a celebration of the fruit Sapota or Chikoo, which aimed to enable local farmers to explore opportunities, scale their business and create a sustainable economy for the local people of the region.

The event, an initiative by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), was organised by the Rural Entrepreneurship Welfare Foundation (REWF) and took place at The S R Save Camping Ground, Bordi Beach, Dahanu.

This year, it was also  supported by Adivasi Vikas Vibhag, Maharashtra Shasan, which looks at the tribal community welfare in the newly-formed North Konkan district of Palghar.

The festival was inaugurated by Madhav Bhandari, vice chairman, relief and rehabilitation committee, Maharashtra state, along with Rajendra Gavit, Lok Sabha Member of Parliament, Palghar, and other dignitaries.

Over 150 adivasi tribals travelled from across different locations in Maharashtra, including Sindhudurg, Raigad, Pune, and Nashik, to showcase their prowess at the festival this year.

Chikoo is a major fruit of and a source of revenue for this region. Hence, the event served as a platform to promote the byproducts of the fruit, so that the food processing industries can utilise the full potential of the fruit.

There were over 250-plus stalls, which, apart from being a place to source organic produce for the visitors attending, also aimed at enabling the local farmers to explore opportunities and scale their business.

About two lakh attendees visited these stalls, and were presented with an array of food products made from chikoo, such as chocolates, ice cream, milkshakes, chips, sweets and cookies.

Amol Patil, president, REWF, said, “With such a festival, we want to showcase what Bordi has to help build a sustainable economy for the locals. So every year, we add new elements to keep the interest of visitors.”

Chikoo Safari
The Chikoo Safari was an event aimed to educating visitors about the business potential of the region and its production. It entailed a visit to a chikoo farm visit, where visitors are talked through the fruit’s knowhow.

Chikoo farmer Shahrukh Irani said, “This region of Gholvad-Bordi-Dahanu has extensive Chikoo production. Additionally, these chikoo farms also produce mango and litchi. The fruit, as such, fetches a very low rate compared to that of mangoes, pomegranates or other fruits.”

“This made us all think together that this huge production of chikoos in the region can be harnessed only if the fruits’ byproducts are made popular,” he added.

The Chikoo Festival was a initiative to raise awareness about the fruit and to highlight its potential. During the safari, visitors were also taught how a chikoo tree is taken care of and can yield well, if taken care of.

Winery visit
There was a visit to Fruzzante, the first company to manufacture wine out of chikoo. The visitors were taken though the process of wine-making, right from the fruit to the final product.

A masterclass was also conducted by chef Smita Hegde Deo. She made two dishes - Purple Yam Cutlet and Chikoo Panchamrut - using local ingredients.

She said, “The Chikoo Festival is indeed a one-of-its-kind event that not only promotes local culture, but is also a source of livelihood for those living in this region.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time here, taking the masterclass which was a very interactive session, and attending the numerous other events that happened on the sidelines. I will surely mark this festival in my annual travel calendar, and ensure that I encourage others to follow suit as well,” Deo said.

On the second day, another masterclass was held by Chef Asma Khan, who demonstrated how to make salads using chikoo and Bengali-style chikoo chutney with papad and lucchi.
 
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