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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
Firms launch India fruit venture
India aims to capture a slice of the global fruit market
Indian telecoms giant Bharti is moving into the global fruit and vegetable market in a joint venture with a unit of UK finance group Rothschild.

FieldFresh Foods aims to sell produce to the EU, Southeast Asia, the Gulf and Central Asia within 18 months.

India produces 14% of the world's fruit and vegetables but only 1% is exported due to lack of processing facilities.

A farm and research facility in the northern state of Punjab will source produce from all over the country.

Each firm is investing $25m (13.9m) in the venture, which plans to sell apples, mangoes, grapes, cherries, tomatoes, baby corn, okra and iceberg lettuce.

Cold storage, processing plants and refrigerated transport facilities will also be established.

"Instead of the farmers' beautiful produce being wasted, we can take their product to Europe at a price point that can be competitive," said Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a member of FieldFresh's board.

"If we do this right, then agriculture will become to India what IT outsourcing is today."

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