Grape growers are aiming to increase exports this season by around 20%, despite the recent spell of cold wave conditions in Maharashtra. While exports to Europe have begun in a small way, exporters expect to ship around 2.5 lakh tonne of grapes to the European Union this season, an improvement of at least 50,000 tonne over the previous season.
As per data available with Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda), 9,810.12 tonne of grapes have left for Europe and as the season progresses, more containers are expected to be shipped to Europe, Jagannath Khapre, president,Grape Exporters Association, said. Till date some 5,526 tonne have been shipped to Netherlands, followed by 1,901 tonne for UK and 1781.70 tonne for Germany, so far. India has shipped its first consignment of grapes to China and Australia, which have opened to the Indian market for the first time.
Most of the 4,800 tonne of grapes have been sent to Russia and 5,861 tonne have been sent to countries, other than Europe. A container of 18 tonne has been sent to China. The first consignment of 33 tonne of Indian grapes has already been dispatched to China and is expected to hit Chinese ports by January 15, according to senior officials.
China has been a regular buyer of Indian grapes. During 2017-18, China had imported 827 tonne of grapes worth $1.3 million from India. China does not produce grapes and meets its entire demand through imports from India and other grape-producing countries. So far, some eight containers had been sent to Australia, Khapre said.
Australia imports grapes from various countries to produce high quality wine for exports, which generated $2.56 billion of foreign currency in 2017. In volume terms, Australia exports around 811 million litres (for 2017) of wines a year. India exports around 1,90,000 tonne of grapes worth $300 million a year, of which the Netherlands contributes nearly 33% both in volume and value. Russia and the United Kingdom shared 15 % and 12 %, respectively, in 2017-18.
Khapre pointed out although there was a recent cold spell in Nashik , the impact would not be major on the crop and instead of the normal 140 days for the fruit to harvest, grape growers would increase it to 160-170 days.
There had been some cracking due to cold and some of the growers had suffered losses, but exports should not suffer much, he said. According to market reports, grape growers in Maharashtra have suffered losses of about Rs 800 crore.
Kailash Bholsale, president, Maharashtra State Grape Growers Association, said the quantum of loss could be more since the extent of damage differs at every stage. The cold wave conditions caused damage to the some of the crop that means the grapes have to be removed by farmers.
This year, the early grape harvest commenced from the last week of October. The total area under grape plantation in Nashik — the grape belt of Maharashtra has been 2 lakh acres. While 1.94 lakh acres are under table grapes, 6,000 acres have wine grape varieties. The productivity is at least 10 tonne per acre and the crop is good despite the recent cold wave, he said, adding grapes have left for Bangladesh, Middle East and Russia, among others.