India has emerged as the largest exporter of gherkins and cucumber in the world. India has exported cucumber and gherkins to the tune of 1,23,846 metric tonnes with a value of USD 114 million during April-October (2020-21), according to information provided by the Commerce Ministry on Sunday.
India has crossed the USD 200 million mark in export of pickled cucumber, which is globally referred as gherkins or cornichons, in the last financial year. A gherkin is a pickled baby cucumber. The name “gherkin” comes from the Dutch word “gurken,” which means small pickled cucumber.
Gherkins are exported under two categories -- cucumbers and gherkins, which are prepared and preserved by vinegar or acetic acid and cucumbers and gherkins, which are provisionally preserved.
Gherkin cultivation, processing and exports started in India during the early 1990s with a modest beginning in Karnataka and later extended to the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Nearly 15% production of the world’s gherkin requirement is grown in India.
Gherkin is currently exported to more than 20 countries, with major destinations being USA, France, Germany, Australia, Spain, South Korea, Canada, Japan, Belgium, Russia, China, Sri Lanka and Israel.
Apart from its export potential, the gherkin industry plays a key role in the creation of rural employment. In India, cultivation of gherkins is carried out under contract farming by around 90,000 small and marginal farmers with an annual production area of 65,000 acres.
Processed gherkins are exported in bulk as industrial raw material and in jars as ready to eat. The bulk production is still occupying a high percentage of the gherkin market. In India there are about 51 major companies producing and exporting gherkins in drums and ready-to-eat consumer packs.
The Centre’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has played a significant role in promotion of export of processed vegetables and it has been providing financial assistance for development of infrastructure and enhancing quality of processed gherkins, products promotion in the international market and implementation of food safety management systems in the processing units.
On an average, a gherkin farmer produces 4 metric tonne per acre per crop and earns about Rs 80,000 with a net income of Rs 40,000. Gherkin is a 90-day crop and the farmers take two crops annually. Processing plants of international standards have been established here to cater to the requirement of foreign buyers.