Triggered by a sharp increase in the shipment of bananas, India's export of fresh fruit doubled in the first five months of the current financial year, on rising demand in Gulf countries after crop failure in Philippines and Ecuador, two major alternative suppliers.
Data from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) showed India's fresh fruit export at 409,921 tonnes during the period between April and August, from 195,259 tonnes in the corresponding period last year. In value terms, however, it was up only 26 per cent to $256 million (Rs 1,720 crore), from $203 mn (Rs 1,360 crore) in the corresponding period last year.
This means the realisation from fruit export has failed to keep pace with the growth in volume. This is due to poor post-harvest management, reducing the shelf life. "The exponential growth in volume is mainly because of sharp increase in shipment of banana to the Gulf countries, Malaysia and Southeast Asia. Because of crop failure in competing countries, exporters are getting a good opportunity. This has also resulted in entry of many opportunistic exporters, affecting the entire trade, said Dattatraya More, general manager (fruits), Deepak Fertilisers & Petrochemicals, also known as Desai Fruits.
Trade sources estimate a little over 40 per cent contribution of banana in the overall shipment of fresh fruit in these five months. Indian banana is cheaper than the same fruit sourced from other origins. In Dubai's auction, our banana was sold at half the price of the fruit from Philippines and Ecuador; India is also said to produce the best quality in the world.
Even so, for a 13-kg box, Indian exporters fetched $7.50-8, against $18-24 by those from Philippines and Ecuador. The realisation for Indian banana exporters is much lower as most are not adopting post-harvest practices of international standard. They adopt short cuts to grab large market shares. Therefore, despite having superior quality, Indian export fetches lower value, said an exporter.
The quality of banana remains in order till harvesting but because of poor handling, the quality then deteriorates. Also, unscientific ripening practices adopted by short-term players reduces shelf life.
The government has mandated modern and scientific packing houses for export of mango and grapes. "The government has taken up the matter very seriously. Already, Apeda has sought compulsory registration of exporters of mango and grapes. Gradually, the same practice will come for banana. Then, fly-by-night operators would run away from the system," hopes More.
More is also being done to educate farmers on quality improvement. The future for Indian produce is bright. This is just the start. As farmers get more aware of global trends, things will further improve, noted Tarun Arora, Director, IG International, also noting new cold store facilities and improving road infrastructure.
Original Source: business-standard.com
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