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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Heavy rain, delayed pruning: Grape season likely to start late

Heavy rain in October last year had resulted in losses to the market-ready crop, as well as a delay in pruning for the next season.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune | October 29, 2020 8:28:49 pm
India exports around 2-2.5 lakh tonnes of grapes in annual shipments, and around 1 lakh tonnes is shipped to countries in the European Union (EU). (File)

India’s grape export season is expected to start late, as farmers in Nashik had delayed pruning earlier this year. With less produce available, the country’s export is expected to be less than the normal volume of 2.5 lakh tonnes.

Heavy rain in October last year had resulted in losses to the market-ready crop, as well as a delay in pruning for the next season. Grape growers had sustained heavy damages due to the rain – especially those in Satana taluka of Nashik, who had planned for their harvest to hit markets by late November or early December. This year, the rain in September-October saw grape growers report moderate to heavy damages in various parts of the district.

India exports around 2-2.5 lakh tonnes of grapes in annual shipments, and around 1 lakh tonnes is shipped to countries in the European Union (EU). More than 90 per cent of the export from the country originates in the vineyards of Nashik, Pune and Solapur districts of Maharashtra.

Vilas Shinde, CEO and managing director of Nashik-based Sahyadri Farmers Producers Company (the largest grapes exporter in the country), said that due to delayed pruning, the produce will be late by 15-20 days in the markets. “We expect the season to begin post January 15, and pick up post February,” he said.

Shinde added that the quantity and quality of the produce have also taken a hit, and that exports would be down by 20 per cent. “Instead of 1 lakh tonnes, which goes to the EU, we expect 80,000 tonnes to be shipped,” he said.

Jagannath Khapre, president, All India Grapes Exporters Association, said due to rain damage to the vineyards in Satana taluka, a delay in market arrivals is expected. “Rain is expected in the next few months, and if that happens, crops will suffer more damage,” he said.

Input costs have also risen, as grape growers have had to take extra care of their vineyards, in addition to production having decreased.

The Department of Plant Quarantine recently lifted the ban on 14 packhouses that had seen quality issues in exports. Earlier this year, Russia had banned produce originating from these packhouses citing quality concerns, following which, the department had imposed the ban. It was lifted after Dindori MP Dr Bharati Pawar took up the matter with the Central government.

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