Source: Business Standard, Feb 15, 2017
Triggered by a sharp increase in production, led by grapes, exports of fresh fruit jumped 40 per cent in the first nine months of the financial year on account of a sharp output decline in competing countries.
Export growth was lower in value terms.
The data compiled by the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) showed fresh fruit exports jumped to 487,441 tonnes ($403 million) in April-December 2016 against 348,675 tonnes ($335 million) in the corresponding quarter last year.
“We expect this season to remain very good on bumper production,” said Subhash Arve, president, Maharashtra Grapes Growers Association. “But the climate is still crucial for the growth of sucrose (sweetness) in grapes. With increasing day temperature, the sucrose content is expected to grow fast, which would ultimately help ramp up exports.”Apart from grapes, India exports mangoes to a number of European, American and West Asian countries. Exports of grapes from India were estimated to have jumped 15-20 per cent this season, following crop damage in exporting countries such as Chile and South Africa. India also started shipping fruit to China, a market that opened for Indian exporters last year.
Another factor for the sharp increase in exports was the entry of large corporate houses that provide special attention to factors such as seeding, field preparations, planting, re-planting, time of harvesting, post-harvest management and marketing. With deep pockets, large corporate houses in fruit management have helped India compete with developed countries that have the best quality produce.
Ashok Sharma, chief executive officer of Mahindra Agri Solutions Ltd, said: “As far as the continuity of white seedless grapes is concerned, India has emerged as the most reliable source as well as a business partner for the European Union. Over the years, Indian growers have relentlessly worked on improving hygiene factors, food safety and quality. Because of reliable service, our country’s export volumes have been growing year-on-year. The markets look favourable this year as well; areas registered for exports has gone up. We have also seen an increase in the number of farmers approaching us for advisory in cultivating exportable grapes.
Our estimate is that the containers exported from India to Europe would go up by five-10 per cent compared to last year.”
Companies like Mahindra Agri Solutions not only provide advisory to farmers but also help increase farmers’ incomes through skilful marketing of their produce.
Meanwhile, the 1st Advanced Estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture has forecast grapes output to set a record of 2.64 million tonnes for 2016-17, against 2.59 million tonnes last year on increased acreage. The grape export season starts in January and continues till April-end.