Agri exports from India, especially the higher value products like mangoes, grapes and soya meal are expected to take a hit as unseasonal rain has damaged crops in several parts of Maharashtra. Exporters fear that in want of quality produce, Indian producers are likely to lose their presence in the world market.
Maharashtra has reported damages to crops over 54.22 lakh hectares (lh) due to the unseasonal rain. Crops like cotton (19.73 lh), soyabean (18.69 lh) and maize (4.89 lh) are the main crops that have reported maximum damage. Besides, around 53,000 hectares of horticulture crops have also reported losses, which mainly include grapes, mangoes and oranges.
Soya meal — the protein rich solid mass left after the oil is extracted from the beans — is a prime export commodity from India, which allows the solvent and extractors pay the growers of the oil seed better prices. Indian meal (also called soya cake) is a prized commodity in the world market given its non GMO nature. On an average, India produces around 65-70 lakh tonnes (lt) of meal, of which around 20-21 lt is exported.
Naresh Goenka, vice-president of the Soyabean Processors Association of India (SOPA), said the damaged crops would severely curtail India’s exports. “Earlier, the crop in Madhya Pradesh was damaged due to heavy rain and now almost 50 per cent of the crop in Maharashtra — the second largest soyabean producing state — has been damaged,” he said. Goenka said that Waterlogging will also compromise the overall quality of the final produce. Most of the the meal produced in the country would be consumed in the domestic poultry industry, he said.
Both grapes and mangoes make up for sizeable portion of Maharashtra’s agri export. The state is the leading producer of both the fruits, with Alphonso — the famed produce from Konkan coast of the state — being a prized produce from the country. Mango orchards along the Konkan coast were severely hit by the unseasonal rain which, growers said, would affect the produce. Last year, India had exported 46,510 tonnes of mangoes, with Maharashtra making up around 80 per cent of the same.
Chandrakant Mokal, president of Maharashtra State Mango Growers Association, pointed out that the unseasonal rain has resulted in the rotting of the green shoots which precede flowering. “This will delay the flowering and subsequently production of the fruit,” he said. Also, the orchards would produce lesser fruits, as unseasonal rain affect production.
Grape growers in Nashik have reported extensive damage with growers from Niphad and Sinnar talukas reporting the maximum damage. Manikrao Patil, secretary of the Nashik grape growers association, claimed a dip of about 40 per cent in production. Last year, India had exported 2.46 lakh tonnes of grapes with growers talking about a dip in exports this year. The orchards that were to come to production later in the year will be of inferior quality and thus not suitable for export.