Gherkin production

Reitzel has always been extensively involved in gherkin farming in France and has been growing gherkins in India since the 2000s. Reitzel’s Indian production subsidiary, Reitzel India Pvt. Ldt., was created in 2005 to manage and ensure the safety of an integrated, high-quality gherkin-production chain, from seeds to consumers.

 

The history of gherkins

It is highly likely that the gherkins that you enjoy straight out of their jar of vinegar were grown in India, the world’s second largest producer of these ‘baby cucumbers’.

When it was first farmed in the Himalayan plains 3,000 years ago, the cucumber had no idea it would soon be one of the leading products exported by what has become ‘the world’s largest democracy’. And not just in any form, please note: this is what you might call an enhanced cucumber: the gherkin - young (baby) cucumbers preserved in vinegar. India is currently the world’s second largest producer of gherkins, after China (as usual…). The country produces 200,000 metric tons of baby cucumbers each year, which accounts for 20% of total gherkin exports.  This means that it is quite likely that your jar of gherkins originated in India, in one of the three gherkin-producing states: Karnataka (70%), Andrah Pradesh or Tamil Nadu.

 

Where do gherkins come from?

Gherkins come from four farming zones

Zone I: T’vekere – 50/75 km (2-3 h)

Zone II: Tiptur – 80/125 km (3-4 h)

Zone III: H’halli – 250/280 km (6-7 h)

Zone IV: TN – 225/250 km (6-7 h)

 

The food chain partnership

The objective:

To develop and implement effective solutions to improve the yield and quality of gherkins, creating a win-win situation for all partners involved in implementing Good Agricultural Practices and respecting the principles of sustainable agriculture.


The solution:

This food chain partnership began with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Reitzel India and Bayer CropScience in 2008. Both parties shared their expectations with regard to this partnership and agreed on the implementation of the 5P process:

Production:  Nunhems, a subsidiary of Bayer CropScience, provided the gherkin variety Ajax, a high-yielding hybrid variety with good processing qualities.

Protection: with technical support from Bayer, Reitzel conducted many in-house trials to develop an optimised solution for plant protection treatments. Bayer and Reitzel experts developed a decision tree for the best growing solution according to good agricultural practices and respecting international trade regulations, e.g. MRL regulations.

Programme monitoring: This programme was jointly monitored during the growing season by Reitzel experts and Bayer food chain managers and project officers.

Passport: This tool recorded all field management data, providing adequate traceability and cost management information. It was developed in the respective local language and implemented at every level of the project.

Post-harvest: Reitzel developed best grading practices and implemented these together with Bayer agronomists. Bayer invested in certified analyses of harvested gherkins in order to check for any excessive MRL* with plant protection products. All the farmers involved in the gherkin food chain partnership project are trained and supported throughout the growing season by Reitzel technicians with back-up from Bayer experts, i.e. they receive training in the safe handling of plant protection products and the use of modern application techniques. * Maximum Residue Level

 

The procurement of raw materials

5,000 farmers:

These benefit from training and advice about integrated and efficient solutions to improve yield, quality and ultimately net profit. The result is improved yield and production quality.

 

50 Reitzel farming technicians:

These implement good agricultural practices and supply farmers with appropriate plant production products, seeds and fertilisers. They provide farmers with their expertise in gherkin farming, market requirements and client needs.

 

The Reitzel experimental farm:

Field trials are undertaken in order to test for the best solution in real farming conditions before large-scale agricultural implementation.