Mohammad Ishaq Chowdhary, Managing Partner, Chowdhary Brothers Group in conversation with Ziraat Times.
ZT: Can you please share with us the history of your business venture/s. J&K’s readers will be very interested to know about where you started, how you grew and how you came to where you are today.
We are a family of fruit growers and dealers of fruits. Our family introduced the concept of modern fruit trading in the valley. Pre-partition our great grandfather used to export fruits and vegetables from Kashmir via Muzaffarabad Rawalpindi route to Punjab and other markets.
We were the first to start an apple juice plant in the valley of Kashmir in the year 1971 under the brand name of “APCO” which was sold as a premium product and liked by both locals and tourists and had a good market share till the 80s.
The turmoil in the valley gave a great set back to our product. Moreover, due to multinationals coming into juice manufacturing, our market got shrunk. We were the first to start the modern banana ripening concept with atmosphere control ripening stores, which a big boost to the banana consumption because of avoiding unhygienic and unhealthy practices by carbide etc.
ZT: What are the challenges of raw material that you face?
Kashmir valley being geographically ill placed within Indian union cannot compete with the food products being produced in other parts of India, as their cost of production is much lower as compared to us, apart from enjoying a big market outside. Most of our packaging materials are to be imported from other parts of India which effects our cost viz-a-viz the rest of India.
Most of our food manufacturing units employ outdated technologies and machines, which reflects on the output and quality of the product.
ZT: What is your message for potential entrepreneurs of Kashmir who may wish to start a business in this area?
The new entrepreneurs must go for modern manufacturing technologies and concentrate on products which have local market potential and try to develop such products which can be exported out of India, cashing on the brand “KASHMIR “ which is quite prominent in the Middle East and South African markets.