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Grapes exports up 21% during Apr-Oct; untimely rains may lead to crop loss

Domestic consumers may have to pay higher prices due to crop damage

Dilip Kumar Jha  |  Mumbai 

A green grape vine
A green grape vine

India’s went up by 21 per cent between April and October 2019 due to an increase in demand from European countries, after Indian exporters ensured quality and traceability with improvement in their farm practices.

Data compiled by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCI&S) under the Ministry of Commerce showed India’s fresh grapes exports stood at 43,622 tonnes for the period between April and October of 2019 in comparison with 36,180 tonnes of for the corresponding period in 2018. Exports of mango and other fresh fruits, including citrus and seasonal ones, have also risen by 12.3 per cent and 37 per cent in volume terms.

Overall export of fruits from India rose by 30 per cent to 310,286 tonnes in the first seven months of FY20 as against 238,955 tonnes in the same period of FY19.

“There is a huge demand of Indian fruits in European countries. Exporters have joined farmers to adopt better farm practices which ensure quality as prescribed by importing countries. Farmers have developed skills for better post-harvest management of fruits by up-scaling storage facilities, transportation and market linkages. This has started yielding positive results,” said Sharad Bhalerao, managing director, Ajinkya Agro Exports, a fruit exporter from Nashik, Maharashtra.

Despite an increase in overall shipment, Indian exporters are worried about the availability of fruits due to reports of massive crop damage by unseasonal rainfalls this year. In Nashik, for example, experts predict 10-15 per cent grape plants have been damaged during December rainfall.

“A large number of grapes flowers downed in the unseasonal rainfalls. Also, huge number of plants grew pale. Hence, availability of grapes and other fruits might be lower this year,” said an exporter, who did not want to be named.

In fact, the lower availability of seasonal grapes has started impacting prices. The early season grapes are quoted at Rs 100 a kg at farm gates in Nashik this year as compared to Rs 60-70 a kg last year. If this trend continues, Indian consumers would have to pay at least 25 per cent higher prices for grapes and other fruits this year. Citrus fruits including orange and watermelon are already quoting higher by 10-15 per cent higher this year than the previous year.

“Farmers willing to export their produce, should be exempted from Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandi access. Once farmers go through mandi route, traceability issue and legal requirement of buyer countries get nullified. That’s why exporters are directly sourcing fruits from farmers. Secondly, infrastructure like pack houses grading stations, pre-cooling chambers etc. at farm gate has also improved. Thirdly, capacity building for export oriented farmers has also been improved over the last few years. All these put together are helping farmers and thus India is seeing an increase in export of fruits,” said Vijay Sardana, an expert in agricultural market and international trade law.

First Published: Sat, January 04 2020. 17:04 IST