India, the world’s largest producer of banana, has swiftly moved to take advantage of the space created by Latin American country Ecquador in Russian market as a Mumbai-based exporter has sent a consignment of 20 tonnes (1540 boxes) of bananas to from India to Russia via sea route.

Flagging off the consignment on February 17, exported by Gurukrupa Corporation, Chairman of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) Abhishek Dev appealed other exporters to employ novel methods in shipping new products to new destinations and assured APEDA’s full support to facilitate such endeavors.

Gurukrupa Corporation, the Mumbai-based exporter of fruits and vegetables, has been regularly exporting fresh fruits and vegetables to the EU and the Middle East markets. It procures bananas directly from farmers of Andhra Pradesh, the largest banana-producing state. After harvesting, the bananas are brought to an APEDA approved packhouse in Maharashtra where those got graded, sorted, packed, boxed and stuffed in containers.

Sea protocol

In the case of current shipment, the container was transported to JNPT for further voyage to Novorossiysk port, Russia for the final destination to Moscow.

The notable feature of this consignment is that APEDA has collaborated with the Central Institute of Sub-tropical Horticulture (CISH) to develop sea protocol which has been employed for this shipment for maintaining the quality of fruit in transit, an official statement said. Dev said APEDA’s financial assistance scheme is putting special emphasis on supporting women entrepreneurs.

Russia, a major importer of banana in the world, has shown keen interest in the procurement of tropical fruits including bananas from India. Russia turning to India to source banana reportedly was due to Ecuador (the biggest supplier) turning to the United States for purchase of military hardware, which was earlier supposed to be procured from Russia.

“Despite being the largest global producer of bananas, India’s exports do not reflect this quantitative evaluation,” the commerce ministry said in the statement. India’s export share in the global market is only 1 per cent whereas it accounts for 26.45 per cent of the world’s banana production (35.36 million tonnes). India had exported 0.36 million tonnes (mt) of bananas worth $ 176 million in 2022-23.

Banana exports

“Within the next five years, banana exports from India are expected to reach $1 billion. This achievement will ensure an increase in farmers’ income and improve the livelihood of more than 25,000 farmers, and is estimated to generate employment for more than 50,000 aggregators directly or indirectly linked to the supply chain,” the ministry said.

The major export destinations for Indian bananas include Iran, Iraq, UAE, Oman, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Afghanistan, and the Maldives. Additionally, the USA, Russia, Japan, Germany, China, the Netherlands, the UK, and France present India with abundant export opportunities.

Apart from Andhra Pradesh, Banana is also grown widely in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh. These five states collectively contribute around 67 per cent of India’s total production.