Project Unnati – A Unique Effort of Coca-Cola India and Jain Irrigation to Enhance Productivity of Totapuri Mango
Dr N Kulkarni
Asim Parekh; Coca-Cola India

Coca-Cola India and Jain Irrigation have recently announced the launch of Project Akshay Unnati – a unique partnership to demonstrate and enable adoption of ultra-high density plantation practices to help double their mango yield and income on a sustainable basis.

The first phase of the partnership with an outlay of USD 2 million between Coca-Cola India and Jain Irrigation systems is a first-of-its-kind large scale joint initiative. It aims to enhance the annual income of farmers by improving yield/acre and simultaneously decrease the quantity of water used per kilo of mango produced. The investment in the first phase of the project will be shared equally by the two partners.

Despite India contributing a whopping 45 per cent towards world’s mango production, the productivity of our farms is one of the lowest in the world. The demand for mango has ever been increasing globally, both for raw consumption as well as for the varieties that can be processed. The challenge needs to be addressed with an increasing per acre sustainable yield. The fact that Jain Irrigation have partnered with Coca-Cola India, the largest fruit beverage company in the country, that has a unique experience in delivering large-scale trainings in communities they work through Parivartan, gives the project a tremendous scale and strength.

Jain Irrigation has tested a unique productivity-enhancing mechanism called ultra high density planting (UHDP), a system of planting 10 times more plants per acre than conventional methods. In this method of cultivation, a relatively close spacing e.g. 3m x 2m is maintained to get a plant density of approximately 500-650 trees per acre and a productivity of 6-8 tons of mango per acre i.e. a 2-3 times increase in productivity as compared to conventional methods. It also reduces orchard gestation period to 3 years as compared to conventional orchards (7-9 years) and makes orchard crops as profitable as other cash crops. The quantity of water required in UHDP is 418mm/year as compared to 430mm/year in conventional orchards, which is equal to 16.89 lakh litre and 17.38 lakh litre per year per acre respectively. The amount of water saved could be calculated in terms of water produced i.e., while water productivity of UHDP is 209 lit/kg, in case of conventional orchards with less input it comes close to 490 lit/kg and the same is about 390 lit/kg in a well-managed, conventional orchard. Water soluble fertilisers can be applied through drip irrigation systems which save fertilizers, thereby increasing fertilizer use efficiency since fertilizers are applied only when required, at the root zone. Fertigation aslo helps in reducing NO3-nitrogen leaching (thereby nitrate pollution) by 50%. Since water through drip irrigation systems is applied only to the root zone, it controls the growth of unwanted weeds. Intercropping during the early years is also possible.

Objectives of Project Unnati

  • Increasing small/marginal farmers’ income by:

o Increasing crop yield
o Increasing productivity of various inputs

  • Increasing water productivity of mango
  • Enhancing carbon sequestration per unit area
  • Improving farmers’ health and safety related to production
  • Generating awareness on concerns related to the environment

The first phase of Project Unnati begins with high-density mango farming in select farms in Chittoor and Kadappa districts of Andhra Pradesh. These areas are renowned for their production of the Totapuri Mango – a key ingredient in India’s largest selling mango drink – Maaza. The project involves 200 demo farms of sizes between 1 and 3 acres using UHDP technology.

List of Planned Activities

  • 300 acres UHDP mango plantation at farmers’ fields with:
    • 80% subsidy on planting materials
    • 50% subsidy on pits marking, digging, filling and planting
    • Subsidy on additional cost of micro irrigation system
  • Training and extension of cultivation practices
  • Field training for new cultivation practices
  • Implementing GAP through Jain GAP
  • Providing soil and water testing services to farmers

Jain GAP Focus
Jain GAP is an entry-level Good Agricultural Practices protocol approved by Global GAP authorities and focuses on

  • Food safety and traceability
  • Record-keeping for farm-level activities
  • Monitoring and tracking pesticide use
  • Handling workers’ safety issues
  • Establishing safety and hygiene protocols
  • Monitoring quality and quantity of product
  • Supporting farmers on improving farm-level practices
  • Improving productivity (40% from the current level)

The implementation of UHDP technology will be concurrently supported by practical and mobile in-class training provided by Coca-Cola University’s Parivartan project jointly with Jain Irrigation. This will enable farmers learn, adopt and carry forward best-in-class learning and benefit from it.

It is estimated that while the demand for mango juice is set to increase consistently in the near future, the area under mango cultivation will not grow at the same rate. Ultra high density mango plantation can be carried out in all regions where mangoes are grown traditionally. This process would require mango grafts of commercial varieties planted very close to each other which would allow attaining good growth during initial years. Special techniques of training, pruning, fertigation and growth promotion would be provided to develop sufficient number of branches and shoots. Special care on nutrition management and pest control would also be provided. Together, these modern techniques are expected to increase yield at least by 200%.

The project is in line with Coca-Cola’s philosophy of Live Positively, and Jain Irrigation’s commitment towards making a positive difference in the communities they work with. This venture hopes to train and empower 50,000 farmers in the next five years.

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