INI Farms, part of AgroStar group, signs Historic MoU with LuLu Group International

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In a historic accord poised to reshape India’s F&V/horticulture landscape, INI Farms, a key player in the AgroStar group, has sealed a transformative Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with LuLu Group International. This groundbreaking partnership establishes a direct farm-to-retail alliance, initially focusing on Indian Cavendish Bananas, and expands the successful collaboration that has already brought Indian pomegranates and guavas to LuLu Group’s Middle Eastern outlets.

The signing ceremony on January 23, 2024, marked a pivotal moment in Indian agricultural exports, with INI Farms becoming the first Indian F&V brand to directly service the renowned global retailer, LuLu Group International. The event commenced with the symbolic Flag-Off of the inaugural container from INI Farms’ Baramati packhouse to LuLu Group UAE, signifying the commencement of this transformative journey.

Representatives from both entities, alongside esteemed dignitaries from APEDA, NABARD, and the Maharashtra Agriculture department, graced the occasion, emphasizing the collaborative efforts that will redefine the farm-to-retail landscape. This strategic alliance highlights the AgroStar group’s prowess in serving Indian farmers comprehensively, meeting global quality standards, and furthering the cause of sustainable agriculture. As the collaboration unfolds, it promises to contribute significantly to India’s position in global agri-trade and marks a milestone in the journey toward making banana exports the first billion-dollar fruit out of India.

INI Farms, part of AgroStar group, signs Historic MoU with LuLu Group International ,24 January 2023, National

— In a landmark development for the Indian F&V/horticulture sector, INI Farms, part of the AgroStar group, has entered into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with LuLu Group International, to build a direct farm-to-retail partnership for the Indian Cavendish Bananas. This is a further extension to a long-term partnership between the two groups already working on pomegranates and Guavas to bring Indian fruits to the supermarkets and hypermarkets of the LuLu Group in the Middle East.

The MoU signing on 23 January 2024, is a groundbreaking moment for Indian Banana exports as it marks the direct servicing of a reputed large global retailer like LuLu Group International by an Indian F&V Brand. The event kicked off earlier in the day with the Flag-Off of the first container from INI Farms’ packhouse in Baramati to LuLu Group UAE, followed by the MoU signing event at Pune, ushering in a new era of partnership and progress in the Indian F&V export business. The event was graced with the presence of Mr. Salim M.A., Director, LuLu Group International along with dignitaries such as Dr. Sudhanshu, Secretary, APEDA, Dr Brajesh Mishra, Head, Regional Plant Quarantine Station, Mumbai , along with other senior representatives from NABARD, Aavishkaar Group and Maharashtra Agriculture department.

Under this strategic partnership, INI Farms working with the AgroStar network of farmers in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, will adhere to the highest standards of quality required for its products to be in globalsupermarkets and ensure a year-round supply to meet the demand of the LuLu’s end consumers. The partnership highlights the capabilities of the AgroStar group to serve Indian farmers across the value chain
and fulfill the quality expectations of customers across the world. AgroStar’s tech capability, strong farmer relationships, agronomy expertise and wide range of agri input products combined with INI Farms’ strong sourcing, post-harvest & supply chain capabilities and its global network of customers/retailers gives the AgroStar group a unique advantage in India’s AgTech landscape. sharing her thoughts on the momentous occasion,
Purnima Khandelwal, CEO, INI Farms
said, “This MoU is a significant milestone not just in the journey of INI Farms, but also for Banana and Guava farmers across the country.We are excited about the prospect of directly servicing a highly reputed global retailer like LuLu and ensuring the highest quality of Indian bananas and Guavas from our farms to their retail shelves. We are grateful for the faith and trust shown by LuLu Group and excited about the opportunities this collaboration can bring for Indian farmers.
“Speaking during the event,
Shardul Sheth, Co-founder and CEO, AgroStar
said: “INI Farms has gone from strength to strength over the past few years. Last year, we witnessed landmark developments like the first Indian consignment of our ‘Kimaye’ branded bananas being shipped to the Netherlands and becoming a pioneer in the industry to successfully ship great quality pomegranates to the USA among other achievements. Our collaboration with LuLu Group International is  yet another important milestone and a testament to our capability to be able to supply F&V products of global quality standards to marquee retailers and end customers around the globe and our passion to continue to build deep and meaningful relationships servicing the seed to market linkage needs of our farmers.
Sharing his thoughts during the event,
Mr. Salim M.A., Director, LuLu Group International
said, “This MoU is not just a trade deal, it is about celebrating the rich agricultural diversity of our nation and
supporting our hardworking farmers. LuLu Group International aims to be the pioneer in sustainable
agriculture and set new standards in quality and innovation. We have been working with INI Farms for
close to a decade and this MoU further strengthens our collaboration. Together, in collaboration with our
farmers and partners we will explore new markets and contribute to the growth of the Agriculture sector.
This MoU is a milestone and I’m confident that our partnership will be marked by success.”

Dr. Sudhashu, Secretary, APEDA, Ministry of Commerce & Industries
shared his thoughts at the event, “I would like to congratulate Lulu Group and InI Farms for signing this milestone MoU for bananas. I am glad that APEDA’s export promotion initiatives ie. Organising Industry participation in leading International trade events, buyer-seller meets, collaborations with research institutions and concerned stakeholders, promotion of GI, ethnic products, providing financial assistance etc are yielding good results in boosting agri exports from the country and farmer’s upliftment and cementing India’s position in global agri trade. The MoU signing and Flag-Off event marks a historic moment for the Indian AgTech industry, representing a leap toward making banana exports the first billion-dollar fruit out of India in the next couple of years.”

Banana exports from India have witnessed exceptional growth, achieving a remarkable 50% CAGR overthe past five years. Projections indicate that India is poised to export over 25,000 containers, equivalent tomore than 5,00,000 tons of fruit, in the fiscal year 2024. This success story has significantly impactedfarmers, creating over 10,000 direct rural jobs, contributing to an ecosystem that encompasses the supplychain, rural infrastructure, transportation, and earning over USD 300 million in foreign exchange (as percustoms data).