“A large percentage of the Indian population is involved in agriculture but its income is not keeping pace with other sectors,” said Asim Parekh, Vice President, Fruit Circular Economy, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia, at Harvard Model United Nations 2017 while addressing the young leaders of tomorrow.

This situation can be improved by connecting the four stakeholders involved in the fruit economy—farmer, processor, buyer and consumer to create a ‘virtuous’ circle. Therefore, the value starts to circle back to the farmer.

Asim spoke about how Coca-Cola is trying to make a difference by using locally-procured fruits for their juice and juice-based beverages. Typically, importing fruits from abroad and paying import duty has been a cheaper exercise than using the “made in India” varieties. However, with the use of training and technology, farmers can be equipped to increase yield and improve agricultural practices.

He stressed that the push needs to come from the brand owners because they help create the demand. It gives the farmer and processor an assurance that if we produce enough fruit, there is surety it will be bought and well utilised. But for this entire cycle to go on smoothly, all other stakeholders must collaborate and help drive the virtuous circle.

Professing full faith in their ability to come up with solutions, Asim asked students to help complete the circle by contributing as consumers. He emphasised that youth need to be inspired and motivated to find new ways to contribute.

He signed off on a nostalgic note “Just interacting with them (students)- they have such an open mind, they are fearless, they are extremely confident, and I wish I was much younger today- I don’t need to tell them but I want to be them!”

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