Fresh grapes export from Maharashtra has begun on a sombre note this season. By January 24, 1,480.928 tonnes of grapes have been exported from the State in 113 containers. Compared with the same period a year, 1.06 lakh tonnes of grapes were shipped from the State in 7,694 containers.

The export figures available with the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) show that grapes export from the State has not gained momentum. The majority of grapes have been exported to the Netherlands – 1,261.372 metric tonne (MT). The export to other countries including Lativa, UK, Poland, Sweden, etc is not even 50 MT.

Of the total grapes exported from Maharashtra 1,468.448 MT is from Nashik district and 12.480 MT from Satara. Many grape growers in the Nashik region are waiting for service providers and exporters to approach them for harvesting.

However, service providers and exporters are waiting for the Maharashtra State Grape Growers Association (MSGGA) to clear its stand on the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

The MSGGA has announced that the MSP of the export quality grapes will be ₹82 per kg in January, ₹71 per kg in February, and ₹62 per kg in March for this season. The Association says that this amount has been calculated on 10 per cent profit on the production cost of grapes.

Discussions between exporters and growers

The recent meeting between the Association and the service providers was inconclusive. However, grape farmers who have cultivated export quality grapes are worried as the export season has started and the issues of MSP remain unresolved.

Also, the prediction of unseasonal rains and changes in weather is cause for concern for grape growers. Exporters have already communicated to the farmers that the rate fixed by the Association are unreasonable. However, Association members say that exporters must not spread misinformation among farmers.

Export economy

The majority of grape growers in Nashik cultivate export quality grapes and exports play a major role in the economy of the region. In the last few years, farmers are cultivating varieties that are in demand in the foreign market.

Along with Nashik some parts of Sangli and Satara also export grapes. Farmers producer companies like Sahyadri are helping farmers to cultivate export quality grapes. Association members claimed that the MSP fixed by the members is based on facts and exporters should not stretch the issue beyond a limit.

However, traders and exporters have not come out openly on the issue and are waiting for farmers and the Association to take a stand on the revised MSP.