Fruit growers in rural Maharashtra have started an innovative 'movement' to promote fresh fruit cakes as a healthier option, instead of the traditional bakery-made cakes, to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions.
According to farmers and agrarian experts, the aim of this 'spontaneous' movement, which is gaining popularity on social media, is to encourage farmers and their families to increase the intake of fruits in their diet and to find a new way of selling their produce in the times of COVID-19.
As part of the movement, farmers, their families and various organisations of cultivators are encouraging cakes made locally using fruits like watermelon, muskmelon, grapes, orange, pineapple and banana while celebrating special events.
Deepak Chavan, a Pune-based agriculture analyst, told PTI that of late, the production of fruits in several regions of the state has increased, leading to a surplus supply in markets and causing a drop in the prices of fruits.
Farmers have already suffered due to the lockdown and now due to surplus supply, traders are purchasing their produce at lower rates, he said.
"As a solution, farmers have started this innovative movement on social media where cakes made of fresh fruits are being used to celebrate birthdays, marriage anniversaries and other events," Chavan said.
Generally, it has been seen that fruit cultivators and their families do not consume adequate fruits as part of their diet, he said.
"The movement is serving the right purpose as farmers and their families are now consuming fruits on different occasions in the form of fresh fruit cakes. These cakes are far better than the bakery-made cakes which have less nutritional value," he said.
Chavan said the movement is currently restricted to farmers and their families, but he is hopeful it will become a sustainable solution for all fruit growers.
'Hoy Amhi Shetkari', a farmers' organisation, is holding a 'fresh fruits cake' competition on social media.
Participants are supposed to make cakes using only locally available fruits.
"As the fresh fruit cake movement is picking up steam, we decided to hold a competition and invited entries from people to send photos and videos of fresh fruits cakes," said Sangli-based farmer Amol Patil, who is a member of the group.
He said they have so far received over 150 entries, with people and farmers sending pictures of their fresh fruit cakes.
Patil said their organisation's social media platform wall is now abuzz with pictures of fresh fruit cakes sent by farmers, their families and other people.
Some people are also using their decorative skills to make the cakes more attractive by using locally available fruits, he said.
"The movement is at a nascent stage and professional and commercial touch is needed to make the endeavour more sustainable to support farmers and their produce," he said.
Taking a cue from the movement and going a step ahead, Mahendra Tekade, proprietor of 'Bhaji Bazar', an Amravati- based fruit and vegetable delivery startup, said they are in the process of starting a fresh fruit cake outlet there.
"We are into farming and horticulture for the last several years. Since we are into the delivery of fresh agri-produce at the doorsteps of customers, we have a supply chain and the infrastructure, so we are now setting up an outlet where fresh fruit cakes will be made available to customers," said Tekade.
To make the entire enterprise more professional, Tekade said they are in talks with some salad decorators to help them in designing trendy fruit cakes.
"In a bid to attract children towards this initiative, we are also trying to carve out shapes of Micky Mouse, Barbie doll and other exciting designs on fruit cakes," he added.