Agri Business

2nd Covid wave: Flight cancellations hit Kerala’s fruits, vegetable exports to Gulf

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on April 23, 2021

Kerala exporters are depending on the traditional markets of UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain etc., by moving 150 tonnes per day

Fruits and vegetable exports to Kerala’s traditional markets in the Gulf have been affected in a big way due to the cancellation of international flights in view of the second wave of Covid -19 in the country.

For the past 45 years, Kerala exporters have been depending on the traditional markets of UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain etc. The transport at least 150 tonnes of fruits and vegetables every day from Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode airports. When the Kannur airport began picking up such shipments, the Covid situation has disrupted the entire movement, Dil Koshy, Secretary, Agriculture Products and Processed Foods Exporters Association (APPEXA) said.

Special passenger flights which come to the State are charging rates that are three-times than normal to carry the cargo and exporters are finding their business unfeasible and unviable, he told BusinessLine.

Lack of incoming cargo

Besides, cargo flights are seldom available due to lack of incoming cargo. In the absence of inward cargo, airlines find their operational costs on the higher side and importers in the overseas markets find difficulties in distributing these commodities to the supply chain at a higher price.

“We are also catering to the US and European destinations using the transit flights from the Gulf destinations by moving 10 tonnes per day. However, the disruptions in flight schedules world-over have affected such movements,” he said.Some exporters had even tried moving cargo in passenger flights. But the non-availability of controlled temperature in the bellies of cargoes is affecting the quality of the material, he said. “We have also tried the sea route especially for bananas and some tuber crop items. But scarcity of containers is posing a problem”, Koshy added.

Out of control

Most of the exporters are not active in these prevailing uncertainty times and looking forward for better prospects. Though there was some improvement in the situation after the first wave, things went out of control with the cancellation of flights in the second Covid wave recently, Koshy said. C Manoj of BVM Fruits, Kondotty, said the emerging situation has forced his company to depend on sea route for exports which he finds less expensive but time consuming on account of 7-8 day transit period. He now despatches weekly one container (18 tonnes) to meet the demand in the gulf nations, despite his business nosedived in the pandemic situation.

Published on April 23, 2021

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