Grape growers in Maharashtra are likely to fetch better revenue from the market in the coming days, thanks to the state government's decision to introduce new varieties of the fruit that will match the global quality in terms of taste, colour and length of grape-bids. The state government, in its meeting with Maharashtra Grape Growers' Association, here yesterday, decided to import new varieties of grapes and cultivate them in the state. According to grape growers association, a decision regarding the import of new varieties of the citrus fruit was taken after eight years and a special variety, being planned to be grown in the state, will have grape bid (single grape) which will be 2 mm longer in size. "Maharashtra's grape export is as high as two lakh tonne, annually. Grape growers export it to the Netherlands, Germany and other European Union countries. Raisins' export is also nearly 50,000 tonne and demand for both the commodities is growing," state agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar, told PTI. "To match this rising demand and tap the new markets, there was a need of new varieties of grapes.
The government's decision is certainly going to help grape growers in the state," he said. It was decided in the meeting that the new varieties of grape (plant) would be imported and cultivated in Maharashtra. These varieties will be then tested for a year with criteria such as annual production, growth of the plant (height) and vulnerability to climate and pest, Fundkar said. President of Grape Exporters' Association of India, Jagannath Khapre said the maximum length of a grape-bid in a bunch is 18 mm, but in the new variety it would be 20 mm. "This would fetch better rates for grape in domestic as well as international market. We had made our demand to the Centre and Maharashtra (government) to introduce new varieties, which has been addressed," he said. Former chairman of Maharashtra Grape Growers' Association Mahendra Sahir said the turnover of grape export in Maharashtra is as high as Rs 15,000 crore, annually. "Of the total production, we export only 1.5 per cent of grapes. If we get modern varieties of grapes, we can export more and generate more revenue," Sahir told PTI. "We have also managed to convince the Centre to press for increasing the use of grapes in sectors such as juice market, wine, spirit and raisin," he said. He said use of grapes for production and consumption of wine and raisins is in practise, but the Indian government is now promoting the fruit's use for making juice and spirits. "This is opening new markets for grape growers and we shall benefit from it," he added.
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