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Blending Tradition with Innovation

Kulgam’s visionary entrepreneur redefines apple packaging
12:00 AM Jan 30, 2024 IST | Gulzar Bhat
blending tradition with innovation
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Inside a spacious concrete shed at Balsoo, an apple-rich village in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, over a dozen men are busy in working on small machines.

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Some are cutting long cardboard sheets, others are supervising the pasting process while a few are stacking the final corrugated boxes.

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The corrugated cardboard manufacturing unit provides employment to over 15 men in the village.

Tanveer Yousuf Baba set up the unit in 2018 immediately after completing his post graduation in English literature.

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Making wooden apple boxes was Baba’s family business over the last two decades. However, as wood, labour and other input costs went significantly up, Baba thought to shift to cardboard box manufacturing.

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One fine morning, he visited District Industries Centre ( DIC) Kulgam where he got all the required information about establishing a unit.

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Baba also participated in a host of workshops and seminars organised by the department to acquaint himself about various government schemes.

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Finally, in June 2018, he set up a corrugated cardboard manufacturing unit.

“The paperwork was a bit cumbersome back then, but now every thing is online and one could easily apply for such units,” said Baba.

The Central government rolled out New Industrial Development Scheme for Jammu & Kashmir ( J&KIDS, 2021) as a Central Sector Scheme. The initiative aims at promoting industries in the Union Territory with a key focus on creating employment opportunities and fostering socio-economic development in the region. Under the new scheme, a flurry of incentives were made available to the prospective industrialists in an attempt to infuse a new lease of life into industrial sector.

Besides availing such incentives, Baba received a 35 percent subsidy on his newly established unit.

“There are machines like diesel generator (DG) where I received a 100 percent subsidy,” he said.

Over the last few years, thousands of apple cultivators have preferred to pack their produce in cardboard boxes due to significant surge in the prices of wooden cartons.

Some times the farmers were even unable to recoup the costs incurred on wooden boxes and other material.

Bashir Ahmad, a well-heeled farmer from Kulgam said that he sold his produce for a song in 2020 and was not able to recover even the cost incurred on wooden box.

Baba, on the other hand, said that the idea behind setting up the unit was also to help the farmers minimise the input costs.

“A cardboard box is priced at Rs 35 while as a wooden box is sold at Rs 80”, said Baba.

He said that it was not only about the lower prices but “ it also saves the packaging time and cost.”

“Here a farmer does not need to hammer in nails to close the boxes. He could easily seal them with a paper tap,” added Baba.

The annual turnover of Baba has crossed Rs 2 crore. The good turnover fetches Baba incentives under the new industrial schemes introduced by the government. The incentives, according to Baba, come under Working Capital Interest Incentive scheme.

Baba’s unit manufactures 7 to 8 lakh boxes each year.

“Sometimes during the season, we work round the clock to meet the growing demand,” said Baba.

He, however, said that in the last apple apple season the demand was comparatively low due to a significant dip in apple production.

“Nevertheless, we were able to reap good returns,” Baba said.

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