Bangladesh has emerged as the top destination for exported Indian pomegranates over the last few years. Ease of transportation and relatively relaxed import norms have helped Indian growers take their fruit to Bangladesh even as the share of export to European countries has dropped.
Grown mostly in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat, pomegranate has emerged as a major export crop for drought-prone areas of the state. Over the years, Indian exports have become stagnant at around 50,000-60,000 tonnes as concerns over the quality of the fruit eclipsed the growth potential. While the European Union is a major market where the fruit fetches premium prices, the standards governing quality are higher there.
Prabhakar Chandane, president of All India Pomegranate Growers Association, said non-availability of export-ready fruit has, over the years, seen European markets slipping slowly out of Indian exporters’ hands. Last fiscal, India had exported 68,502.9 tonnes of the fruit, of which 36,906.77 tonnes had gone to Bangladesh. In the current fiscal, of the 53,524.31 tonnes of the fruit, 31,185.84 tonnes have been exported to Bangladesh.
One of the main reasons for the neighbouring country emerging as a major export destination is the ease of transport and the relatively relaxed quality norms. “Last three years, just before the season, unseasonal rains and attack of mildew have affected our ability to export,” said Chandane.
“The fruit can be exported to Bangladesh round the year and thus we can send our produce even when the European season is over,” he said.
While exports have taken a hit, registration of farmers who are ready to export their produce have seen a sizeable jump. The Agriculture department registers plots for export and outlines steps to ensure the fruits meet the prescribed residue content. The steps include measured application of pesticides and fungicides, which could be detected in residue levels before exports. This fiscal, 5,000 farms have to registered, of which 1,000 have been registered.