In a remarkable turn of events, kinnow growers in Punjab now have a reason to celebrate. The fruit they once considered waste is now being eagerly purchased by the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation (PAIC) to be transformed into a delightful citrus gin.
The first batch of this gin, aptly named Oregin, has already hit the shelves in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi, and Chandigarh. Priced at Rs 1,800 for a 750 ml bottle, a staggering 25,000 cases of gin have already been distilled, with 13,000 bottles sold exclusively in Goa. Mangal Singh, the Chairman of PAIC, expressed his enthusiasm for the success of this venture.
Kinnow, a crucial horticultural crop in Punjab, as well as neighboring states like Haryana and Rajasthan, has traditionally faced the issue of undersized fruit (C and D grade) being discarded as waste, while only the top-grade fruit is sold to retail customers.
“After the initial attempt to extract and market juices from these undersized kinnows, it became clear that the taste did not appeal to consumers due to its slight bitterness,” explained a senior PAIC official.
To find an alternative and valuable use for such kinnows, the PAIC sought the expertise of a French sommelier. After two years of refining the recipe, which incorporates kinnow, juniper, and other spices, and conducting extensive tasting sessions, the PAIC decided to proceed with the commercial launch. The manufacturing of the gin is being carried out in collaboration with a craft distillery in Goa, with a patent already filed for the unique blend.
PAIC officials state that the low-grade kinnows will be purchased from farmers at existing market rates, with a minimum base price of Rs 8 per kg. As the brand gains popularity, PAIC anticipates procuring up to 50,000 quintals of kinnow each year to meet the demand for gin production.
Promoting value addition in agricultural produce, Ramandeep Singh Mann, an agricultural expert, emphasized the significance of such initiatives. He noted, “Value addition to all horticultural crops is the need of the hour,” highlighting that successful endeavors like this could inspire farmers to consider diversification from the conventional wheat-paddy monoculture.
With Punjab Agro Industries Corporation’s ingenious approach, what was once considered waste has now become a profitable venture, benefitting both farmers and gin enthusiasts alike. This transformative endeavor not only showcases the potential for innovation in the agricultural sector but also paves the way for a more sustainable and prosperous future.