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Maharashtra’s grape export hit hard by lockdown, unseasonal rains

Grape farm in Cape Town, South Africa (Photo: VNA). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MUMBAI, Jun 29, 2020, The Hindu BL. Unseasonal rains in October and the lockdown have led to a 24 per cent drop in Maharashtra’s grape export compared to the previous season, Business Line reported.

In 2018-19, Maharashtra exported 1,21,469 tonnes of grapes in 8,982 containers. However, this season, it exported 92,342 tonnes in 6,842 containers — a drop of about 29,000 tonnes, or 24 per cent.

Nashik, the grape hub, exported over 81,990 tonnes, which is 89 per cent of the total grape export from Maharashtra. Of this, Sangli district exported 5,610 tonnes.

In Karnataka, Bijapur exported 142 tonnes of grapes this season. No grapes were exported from Andhra Pradesh, according to data published by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

The major grape-growing States are Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and the north-western region covering Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Maharashtra ranks first in terms of production, accounting for more than 81.22 per cent of the total production and representing the highest productivity in the country.

All India Grape Exporters Association officials said exports were on track till February but as the Covid-19 spread multiplied, the demand for grapes declined in the international market, and the lockdown came as the last straw. Farmers, exporters and traders have suffered heavy losses this season, according to Association officials.

Vilas Shinde, Chairman and Managing Director of Nashik-based Sahyadri Farms, said farmers and traders faced problems in storage and quality maintenance due to unseasonal rains in September and October. Some consignments were rejected over quality issues. Many consignments got stuck due to the lockdown. Also, there was a dearth of manpower for cutting and packaging. The rates of grapes dropped by 40 per cent at the end of the season, said Shinde.

Grape farmers said the next season would put more pressure on them because of heavy losses incurred this season. Many grape farmers who couldn’t export their produce tried to sell it in the local markets but the lockdown and demand decline disrupted their plans.

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