Maharashtra is all set to touch a record-high export of grapes to the European Union and Russia. By March-end, the state has already exported at least 8,000 containers of grapes to the EU, which, Jagannath Khapre, president of Grapes Exporters Association, said was a three year high.
Grape growers had reported a bumper crop this year due to the absence of unseasonal rains and hailstorms. The long dry and extended winter has ensured more availability and more produce for export markets. The season had also started early with growers of Satana region sending their produce as early December. Normally, exports to European markets start by January and continue till mid-April.
Khapre said that by the end of March, at least 8,000 containers of grapes were exported. “By the end of last season, not even 7,000 containers were exported. However, in the 2017-18 season, as many as 7,000 containers were exported. This year, we expect the exports to touch a three year high,” he said.
Availability of the quality produce and remunerative prices have pushed the export graph. A majority of the season saw farmers selling their produce in the range of Rs 40-50 per kg, which Khapre said was a good price to compete in international markets. European markets are much sought after by grape exporters due to the better prices there. Other than European markets, Indian grapes also reach the shelves of markets in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other countries. This year, exporters have also sent their produce to Chinese markets but more efforts are needed to breach the iron curtain.
Vilas Shinde, managing director of Nashik-based Sahyadri Farms — a farmers producer company (FPC) — said volume-wise, the season has seen as much as 20 per cent rise in exports to European markets, but price-wise, farmers did not see much change. “Availability of export quality of produce from the start of the season has pushed up exports,” he said.
Santosh Gorade, a grape grower from the village of Takli Vinchur in Niphad taluka of Nashik, said that throughout the season, he sold grapes at the rate of Rs 40-50 per kg. “The prices just about met the cost of production. Exporters might have seen better returns but it did not percolate to us,” he said.