Papaya cultivation is big business in India: the country grows 120 million papaya plants a year, more than any other. Many are propagated in Jiffy-7C Pellets. Here, we talk to Rajendra Kumar, Jiffy’s distributor in India, and Athula Fernando of Jiffy Asia. Together, they ensure papaya nurseries can always trial J7C. Because, as they say, ‘seeing is believing’.
Commercial papaya farmers in India use over 20 million Jiffy-7C Pellets a year and that number is still growing.
It wasn’t always that way. When Jiffy started in India 13 years ago, most nurseries were very resistant to changing from their preferred method: poly bags filled with soil. Athula Fernando, Jiffy Regional Sales Manager, set out to educate growers.
He has always had invaluable support from Rajendra Kumar of Floral Designs. Not only is Floral Designs the sole distributor of Jiffy products in India, Rajendra is a “Jiffy man through and through” as Athula puts it.
Why trials work
“The main resistance to J-7C was the price,” says Rajendra. “Showing growers cost benefit analyses helped. But we could see that trials would demonstrate most clearly that whatever money they put in, it was worth every penny. Seeing is believing, after all. Jiffy helped us set up the maximum number of trials.”
“Papaya seeds are expensive. If they don’t germinate, it’s a big loss for the nursery,” adds Athula. “We showed that our pellets always deliver high germination rates and a good quantity of white roots. That also means seedlings are ready 10 to 15 days earlier than with poly bags, another big advantage.”
Working with India’s largest papaya nursery
Things really started to turn around when the pair approached India’s largest papaya nursery, Bodke Nurseries. Bodke produces nearly 10 million papaya plants per year and are seen as an example by other nurseries.
“Initially Bodke said J-7C wouldn’t work in India,” says Rajendra. “So we supplied them with some to trial. Once the results came in, Bodke began picking up pellets every two weeks! They supply a pan-Indian network of farmers, which helped spread the concept all over the country.”
Why customers came back from the competition
In 2019, Bodke and some other nurseries switched to the paper pot system because it seemed to offer better value. Nearly all have come back to Jiffy because they weren’t getting J-7C’s consistent results.
“At the end of the day, the nurseries switched back because of their customers, the farmers,” says Athula. “Farmers started insisting on Jiffy-grown plants. It’s not about a look-alike product – Jiffy is Jiffy because of our quality parameters in terms of EC and pH, texture and structure.”
Standardizing production at nurseries
“We also work very closely with the nurseries,” says Rajendra. “We iron out any problems and help them standardize production. Nursery management is so easy with Jiffy. They can plant many more seeds per day with our pellets than with soil bags.”
The relationships with customers withstood the disruptions caused by Covid. Jiffy and Floral Designs minimized delays and managed to deliver more pellets in 2020 than in 2019. This year promises to be even better.
J-7C for strawberries, tea, and more
Now Rajendra and Athula are branching out. They’re showcasing J-7C’s success with ornamental plants, strawberries, tea, and other crops. The first trials are well under way, and we are looking forward to add more value to the Indian market.