Notwithstanding the initial scepticism, exports of grape and pomegranate this season has been exceptionally good with growers talking about going past the figures of last year. The prolonged winter that has seen subdued temperatures for a longer period than usual, growers said, had helped them harvest export quality produce.
Prabhakar Chandane, president of the Pomegranate Growers’ Association of India, said at the start of the export season, growers were apprehensive given the low prices and quality concerns. However, the season turned out to be exceptionally good as the winter was prolonged and temperatures had dipped. “Due to the low temperatures, the quality of the harvest was good and exports saw a boost,” he said.
Chandane said till date, around 40,000 tonnes of pomegranate has left for foreign shores, of which 2,000 tonnes have gone to Europe. Last year, India had exported 50,000 tonnes of pomegranate. “Given the trends, we are confident that we will be able to cross the export figures of last year,” he said. He added that exports would continue till March after which the heat will take a toll on the quality of the fruits.
Grape exporters have also reported that conducive climate has allowed good growth of the vines. In case of grapes, heavy rains towards the end of September played havoc on standing crops and there was a general consensus of 40 per cent dip in production. Last year, the country has exported around 2 lakh tonnes of grapes, most of which was from Maharashtra. Exporters had expressed doubts on whether the country will be able to surpass the figures this year. However, Jagannath Khapre, president of Grape Exporters’ Association of India said till date, the country has exported 33,140 tonnes of grapes to Europe and UK and an equal amount to the rest of the world.
“Last year, on the same day, the exports to Europe and UK stood at 28,929 tonnes,” he said. The 40 per cent dip in production, Khapre said, has allowed for better quality management and thus, increased exports. Khapre also said the exports will continue till the end of March or mid-April depending on the temperature rise. This year, exporters have also noted an increased in the exports to China.
Chilean grapes, which are the largest competitor to India, Khapre said, has not yet reached the European shores. “We have heard of a price drop in Chilean grapes in the USA and there are fears that they will make their way to the European markets. If that happens, chances of Indian grapes will certainly be challenged,” he said.