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Fresh sanctions on Russia worry exporters of mango and grapes

Exclusion of Russian banks from SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) network is the latest of the sanctions which aims to suspend Russia’s access to worldwide markets.

Written by Partha Sarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: February 28, 2022 7:15:34 am
indian mangoes exported to US covid-19Mango growers from Konkan, who claim that their product is better in terms of taste and texture, have taken objection to this rampant usage of the term 'Alphonso'. (Express File)

Fresh sanctions, such as the exclusion of Russia from the financial messaging platform of SWIFT, is likely to impact India’s mango and grapes export. Indian exporters feel the sanctions will seriously cripple their chances of exploring the markets there.

Over the weekend, USA, UK and other Western countries waded in with fresh sanctions against Russia for its military action in Ukraine. Exclusion of Russian banks from SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) network is the latest of the sanctions which aims to suspend Russia’s access to worldwide markets. In simple words, this would prevent exporters or importers to receive or make payment for goods or sent or received from other countries.

The sanctions comes at a time when the Indian grape export is on in full swing. As of Sunday, India had exported 35,570.31 tonnes of grapes, which is much lesser than the 1.06 lakh tonnes of the fruit exported the same day last year. Russia accounts for 10 per cent of Indian grapes exported worldwide. Vilas Shide, CMD of Sahyadri Farmers Producers Company (FPC), the largest grapes exporter in India, said more than a reduction in volumes, they fear payment being stuck in Russia.

“The banking system will be out of our reach now, like Iran, where due to sanctions, we can’t trade in US dollars. This will have serious repercussions on our trade,” he said.

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The grape season has already started under the cloud of excessively high freight charges. Charges, which are now $8,000/container, is the highest ever. While the demand remains, this high freight charge cuts the profit of the trade and thus directly affects the price realised by farmers.

Like grapes, mango exporters are also wary of the overall effect of the ongoing war and sanctions against Russia. A C Bhasale, secretary of Fruits and Vegetable Exporters Association, said such sanctions have long shadows.

Also the movement of containers, would be a serious problem which is expected to reduce exports. This negative sentiment comes even as India prepares for a bumper mango season, with farms reporting good crop conditions. Initial estimates say that the arrival of mangoes would be late but the volume would be high. At present, Pune’s wholesale markets do report the stray arrival of mangoes but the extremely high cost has kept buyers away.

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First published on: 28-02-2022 at 03:38:15 am

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