The new rules are in agreement with the reforms in the Common Agricultural Policy in 2013, and were also approved by the European Parliament and the member states.
The publication confirms that the member states should, at a national level, manage a system of free, non-transferable planting authorizations.
Any new plantations are to be liable to safeguard mechanisms, with authorizations limited to 1 percent growth in a member state's vine surface per year.
Although there are options for member states, as they can apply for growth limits at a national or regional level, or for areas with or without geographical indication.
The rules also clarify the stipulations in the transition from the old scheme to the new one, and how valid planting rights can be converted into authorizations.
Planting rights that are not granted to producers by the end of 2015 will then no longer exist after that date.
“The new system provides flexibility for the European wine sector to gradually expand production, in response to growing world demand,” EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Phil Hogan said.
“At the same stage, Member States have a range of safeguards to apply in order to address possible social and environmental risks in specific wine production areas,” he added.
An external study compiled by the Commission, concluded that the EU wine market has increased its exports to countries outside the EU and EFTA trade bloc.
Despite that improvement in the trade balance, the EU is losing global market share.
The worldwide forecast for total wine consumption is that it will to increase up to 2025, but in the EU it is thought there will be a reverse of that trend, and wine drinking will decrease, leaving exports as the main market for EU countries.
According to Comtrade data, Italy, France and Spain are the EU’s leading countries in export markets for bottled wine, claiming 22 percent, 18 percent, and 17 percent respectively of that market in 2012.
For bulk wine market share, Spain leads the way with 27 percent of the total sales, with Italy a way back in second place, with their wines accounting for 17 percent of bulk buying.
For bottled wine, 10 countries accounted for 82 percent of the total bottled wine exports from the EU, they are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, including Hong Kong and Macao, Japan, Norway, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland and the US.
Reviewing the import market, Comtrade data revealed as part of the Commission’s study that in 2012, all EU wines represented about 70 percent of the world import market in value for bottled wines, and slightly more in volume.
This was slightly less for wines in bulk, as the EU claimed for around 55 percent in value and 60 percent in volume.
The study concluded that the positive factors for a greater share of the wine market for the EU was market proximity, compared to EU main competitors.
Also, there are historical relations of importing countries with some Member States, for example, with former colonies such as Angola.
Characteristics of some EU wine producing states have a sellable cultural image in some import markets.
The negatives for the EU were viewed to be the distance from markets relative to competitors, such as Australia, Brazil and Singapore.
Plus there are economic, political and linguistic ties between supplier and consumer countries, very often through global wine companies, for example between the UK, US and Australia.
“CEEV welcomes the adoption of a planting scheme that allows new plantings. However, the low level authorized (1 percent), together with very restrictive applications at Members States level, will probably allow to merely compensate the erosion of the European vineyards,” Sylvain Naulin, policy officer and wine chief marketing officer for external trade for CEEV, the representative body of the EU wine industry, said.
“Therefore, the EU vineyards will not expand. In this regard, it is a missed opportunity of developing an ambitious vision of the European wine sector,” he added.
He said that traditionally the consumption of wine in the EU has been ensured by the main producing countries. “In those countries, regular wine consumption has been steadily decreasing for a number of years now, and was partly compensated by an increasing consumption in newly consuming countries,” he said.
“At global level, the emergence of new and large countries such as China and India, together with economic development and ever more urbanized lifestyles, will lead to a steady increase of the global consumption at mid-term. USA remains the main important, and mature, market,” he said.
Naulin adds that restricting the access to new plantings would contribute to the loss of market shares for EU wines, and prevent the market from being able to meet the needs of the increased global consumption.
This would be to the benefit of established competitors such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
On the other hand, he says that the EU has to have an ambitious trade policy, in order to give to EU wines the same market access conditions than our competitors.
Despite inclement weather and hailstorms that flattened vineyards recently, grape growers in Nashik have managed to export about 3,200 containers of table grapes to UK and Europe. The exports to Russia and China have not been included in the count, Draksha Bagiatdar Sangh (grape association) chairman Kailas Bhosale told The Asian Age on Sunday.
Grape growers hope to export 500 more containers by April. Compared to last year’s exports of around 6,000 containers, there is a shortfall of about 2,500 this year. About 100 containers are shipped daily and each contains an average of 13 tonnes of grapes.
The Asian Age had earlier reported that according to sources, grape production in Nashik was likely to decrease by 20 to 25 per cent this season, affecting exports and local supply with premium prices, despite an increase in acreage.
Though the production is difficult to survey due to scattered vineyards, agriculture sources say that it is around six lakh tonnes. The Nashik district is the largest producer of grapes in India with nearly 1,75,000 acres of vineyards, while the total acreage in Maharashtra is 2,50,000.
In the beginning of this century, grape growers became exporters and began shipping huge quantities to Europe and Asia. However, in 2009 and 2010, a residue of a growth hormone was found in the grapes and the entire Nashik consignment was rejected. After this, grape growers export through trading companies.
About three to four lakh labourers work on the vineyards round the year. Technical excellence in grapes has increased with agriculture graduates and Internet-savvy entrepreneurs in this business. Regular seminars are held and participants updated with the latest advances in the field..
The state has exported 35,627.43 metric tonnes of grapes by March 25 in the current grape season, including 32,000 metric tonnes from Nashik district alone; which is 10,600 tonnes more than last year's export of 25,107.57 metric tonnes in the corresponding period.
The grape export from Maharashtra in the current grape season is expected to reach the target of 55,000 metric tonnes achieved last year, including 48,465 metric tonnes which were exported from Nashik district in 2013.
An official from the agriculture department informed, "The state has exported 35,627.43 metric tonnes of the produce till March 25, against 25,107.57 metric tonnes during the corresponding period last year. Out of the total, 32,000 metric tonnes have been exported from the district, against 23,000 metric tonnes during the corresponding period last year."
Of the total of 35,627.43 metric tones exported, 18,720.51 metric tonnes have been exported to the Netherlands, 1,741.80 metric tonnes to the United Kingdom, 3,223.82 metric tonnes to Germany, 1,657.10 metric tonnes to Belgium, 984.72 metric tonnes to Sweden, 839.68 metric tonnes to Denmark, 831.75 metric tonnes to Norway, 468 metric tonnes to Lithuania, 365.46 metric tonnes to Finland, 279.43 metric tonnes to Ireland, 251.55 metric tonnes to Italy, 113.32 metric tonnes to Austria, 72 metric tonnes to Switzerland, 35.42 metric tonnes to Portugal, 29.11 metric tonnes to Estonia and 13.72 metric tonnes to Malta.
Speaking to TOI, president of the Grape Exporters' Association of India (GEAI) Jagannath Khapare said, "In the beginning, the grape season was good and we were expecting 65,000 metric tonnes of export this season.
But unseasonal rains and hailstorms ended up damaging the vineyards to some extent. Nevertheless, the grape export will be the same as it was during the previous year. By April end, we are expecting exports of 55,000 metric tonnes from the state."
From 2004, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has made registration of vineyards compulsory for grape growers wanting to export their prodcuce to promote export quality grapes production. In the current season, 19,793 vineyards (13,900 hectares), each admeasuring betwen 0.40 hectares and 1.20 hectares, have been registered for export of grapes in the district. Last year, 15,679 vineyards (13,123 hectares) had been registered with the office of the superintending agriculture office for the purpose.
It is a story of total turnaround for Indian grape exports. Four years after the European Union rejected Indian grapes on the issue of pesticide residues, which wiped out the entire breed of small grower exporters from the export scene, the European buyers are now queueing up to buy Indian grapes.
Despite the damage caused by recent rainfall and hailstones in the growing regions of Maharashtra - the top grape producer and exporter - India is set to export record quantity in the 2013-14 season. Farmers are enjoying good rates as demand for grapes is strong from Europe, Russia, Bangladesh and the Middle East.
Jagannath Khapre, president of the All India Grape Exporters Association, said, "This year, the export season has been very good. The export of grapes to Europe and UK till March 3 has been 14,000 tonne as against 8,500 tonne during the same period last year. The confidence of the customers in Europe and UK in the quality of Indian grapes has grown enormously."
Grape export to the European Union (EU) had come down to 22,000 tonne in 2010-11 due to the pesticide issue. Gradually, it increased, touching 56,000 tonne in 2012-13 .
"When we started monitoring the orchards for residues in 2005, we were testing grapes for 72 molecules. Now, grapes are checked for residues of 173 molecules," said Govind Hande, deputy director (horticulture), Maharashtra.
Opening up of alternative markets like Russia and China has also led to overall growth in grape exports. Currently, the farmers are getting about Rs 65 a kg to Rs 90 for export quality grapes.
"The long-length varieties like Sonaka are in high demand in countries like Bangladesh and the Middle East," said Ashok Motiyani, managing director, Nashik-based Fresh Trop, a leading grape exporting company.
The EU consumers like grapes with larger sizes. An official of a leading corporate doing grape exports said, "A lot of European buyers are taking Indian grapes as the supplies from other countries in Africa and Chilie have declined."
Last year, many corporate grape exporters including market leader Mahindra Shubhlab had registered a growth of 40 per cent to 50 per cent in exports.
This year, the exporters have almost doubled growth in volumes till now. Depending upon the vagaries of weather, Indian grape exports will continue till April-end. For the last two years, grape exports to Russia have been growing exponentially.
"This year, the exports to Russia may double in volume compared to the previous year," said Khapre.
The depreciation of rupee is another reason for the exporters to cheer as it is giving them good returns. The rainfall in Maharashtra and the cloudy weather are major concerns for the exporters.
"Grape orchards in Vadner village, known for quality grapes, were damaged due to heavy winds and hailstones," said Kishor Mohite, president of the Nashik Grape Growers' Association.
However, despite the damage caused by bad weather, the exporters are hopeful of registering more than 20 per cent growth by the end of the season. Grape prices in the domestic market were ruling low due to cold weather in the northern parts of the country. The growers are expecting good returns from the domestic market with the rise in temperature.
Grape production in Nashik, India’s largest producer of the fruit, is likely to decline around 30% this season due to untimely rains. However, exports are on the rise with farmers showing a marked preference for overseas markets — they are getting almost double the price abroad, Ashok Gaikwad, president, Maharashtra State Grape Growers’ Association (MSGGA), said.
According to Gaikwad, around 22,000 vineyards from Nashik alone have already registered with Grapenet, the online platform developed by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), as opposed to about 15,000 last year. Registering the farm on Grapenet is mandatory for farmers who want to export the fruit. Last year, a record 6,000 containers (one container equals 12.5 tonne) were exported from Nashik to the European Union (EU), amounting to around 70,000 metric tonne. This time, exports should exceed 70,000 metric tonne, he said.
Prices in the domestic market touched R30-35 per kg last year while overseas markets fetched R60-65 per kg and things are similar this time, Gaikwad said. Although there is a lot of groundwork involved in registration, farmers prefer the export route as they end up with more money, he pointed out.
Around 10 lakh metric tonne of grapes are expected to be produced in the Nashik district, with productivity at 20 metric tonne per hectare. The other grape-growing districts include Solapur and Sangli. However, they focus more on raisins.
Nashik district is the largest producer of grapes in India with nearly 1.75 lakh acres under vineyards while the total acreage in Maharashtra is 2.50 lakh acres. This year, the state has less than 2.50 lakh acres under grapes. Maharashtra contributes 90% of the country's total grape exports. Around 70% of the state’s grape exports come from Nashik.
Shipments are sent mainly to countries in the European Union, Russia, the far east and China. Russia emerged as a major market for Indian grapes last year. From just about 100 containers in 2010, around 1,000 containers went to Russia last year. Last year, exports to China also began. According to officials from APEDA, exports to Russia began 10 days ago.
MSGGA has been working towards getting better grape varietals for farmers. This year, the association purchased six varietals from an Israeli and South African breeder and is in talks with a breeder from California as well. The association has also urged the central government to give 25% subsidy to import machinery and waive 12.5% import duty on such imports.The move comes in the wake of scarcity of labour, which has become a concern for grape-growers in the district.
MSGGA has taken the initiative in encouraging farmers to undertake mechanisation. But it is not affordable as the machines are expensive and attract 12.5% import duty.
While demand remains high in key markets such as EU and Russia, emergence of Middle East as another major buyer has led to the revenue projections from grape export in the country hitting a record high
With the export of seedless grapes being expected to hit an all-time high this year, Maharashtra has emerged as the leading grape producer and exporter in the country.
Exports are expected to hit a record quantity this year, with about 2.15 lakh tonnes of the seedless variety projected to sent to the overseas markets, primarily Europe and Russia.
According to All India Grape Exporters Association, 1.72 lakh tonnes of seedless grapes were exported last year, a rise of 25 per cent, owing to favourable conditions during pruning period in October 2013 and better awareness among the farmers regarding the methods of disaster and drought management.
Speaking to Mirror, Jagannath Khapre, Chairman of All India Grape Exporters Association, said, “The demand for seedless grapes is particularly high in Moscow and the Netherlands.
Although there has been a steady rise in exports over the years, supply in domestic markets has not been affected as only about 7 per cent of the total produce is being exported.”
Khapre added that the European Union is the largest international market for seedless grapes from India and there has been a rise in the exports to EU from 56,572 tonnes in 2013 to 65,000 tonnes this year.
Till 2010, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh were contributing towards the bulk of the exports. However, they have backed out in the last two years, owing to erratic rainfall and non-conducive weather conditions that has hit the grape production in the two states.
“At present, Maharashtra is the face of Indian grape exports abroad. This year, we have also exported sizeable quantities of grape to the Middle East.
However, this market is new and the demand is higher for the elongated variety of seedless grapes there as compared to the cylindrical variety that is popular in EU,” Khapre said. Seedless varieties of grapes such as Thompson, Sonoka, Sharad and Flame account for more than 70 per cent of the total grape production in Maharashtra.
These varieties are primarily cultivated in the orchards in and around Nasik. The regions around Sangli and Solapur, being a dry belt, mainly produce raisins.
“We hope to export 7,000 metric tonnes of grapes this year compared to 5,000 metric tonnes last year.
The international market is booming and there is room for exponential growth in this sector,” informed Ashok Motiyani, managing director at Nasik-based Fresh Trop, one of India’s largest grape processing and export company. The revenue from grape exports is projected to cross a figure of Rs 1,500 crore this fiscal.
The area under the cultivation of table grapes (intended for consumption while they are fresh) for export has increased by 5.92% to 13,900 hectares for the grape export season, January-April, 2014, from last year.
The agriculture department is eyeing exports of 50,000 metric tonnes of grapes during the upcoming grape season. Last season, 48,465 metric tonnes of grapes were exported from Nashik district.
"Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has made the registration of vineyards compulsory from 2004 for grape-growers, wanting to export their grapes to promote export quality production. Accordingly, the superintending agriculture officer has finished registration of vineyards for last season. By December 15, (the last date for registration of vineyards with late fees), 19,793 vineyards (total 13,900 hectares), each admeasuring 0.40 to 1.20 hectares, have been registered. Last year, 15,679 vineyards (13,123 hectares) had been registered," an official from the agricultural department told TOI.
For the upcoming grape season, the total area under cultivation is around 1.25 lakh acres. Around 10 lakh metric tonnes of grapes are expected to be produced in the district as the productivity is 20 metric tonnes per hectare.
Maharashtra contributes 90% of the country's total grape export. Around 70% of the state's grape export comes from Nashik. The district is registering growth in export of grapes every year. The exports from Nashik have increased 10-fold from 4,532 metric tonnes in 2003 to 48,465 metric tonnes in 2013. In 2011, however, grape exports had declined by 58% to 15,000 metric tonnes due to unseasonal rains.
But, Nashik experienced good grape seasons in 2012 and 2013 with exports of 28,000 and 48,465 metric tonnes of grapes, respectively.
After grapes and mangoes, India has plans to ship its raisins abroad, especially to the US. The Indian Grape Processing Board (IGPB) has met officials from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), and Codex Alimentarius Commission to develop quality standards for raisin production in the country so that the product conforms to consumers' safety norms abroad.
The commission has been established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and World Health Organization in 1963 to develop international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to protect the health of the consumers. At present, lack of standards in production and poor quality of raisins is a big trade barrier, said officials.
Chairman of the grape-processing board Jagadish Holkar told TOI that not much attention has been paid to marketing of raisins. It included devising quality standards according to global norms. "We want to promote Indian dried grapes or raisins in the international market. There is research in India, but nothing beyond. We want to first draw up the standards for raisin production and quality. The commission will help us," said Holkar.
He met Sanjay Dave, chairman of the commission and advisor to FSSAI, to discuss the idea. Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had recently asked the heads of the grape board to look at raisin prospects.
"The grape processing board will look into productivity, quality and consumer safety of raisins and frame guidelines as per global standards for export," said Holkar. These guidelines have been issued by WHO and India's raisins must also adhere to them. Often, we think about taking our raisins to several countries but are stopped short due to lack of quality standards
He added that though India exports around 30,000 tones of raisins each year to 80 different countries (70% of which comes from Maharashtra),
There has been much discussion on the maximum residue limits of pesticides, and agricultural chemicals on raisins exported from India and they often do not conform to the residue standards of the country they are being exported to.
"Standards will also enhance raisin quality for the Indian market. Indian raisins are divided into three categories. Once the standards are in place and production procedures abide by them, raisins in the third category would be good enough to replace those in the second category and so on," he said.
The board will also have to explore the possibility of producing seeded grapes for raisins across India which come from Andhra Pradesh, apart from reviewing raisin clusters in the country.
IGPB will also ask National Research Centre for Grapes to prepare the draft for standards, apart from taking help from Codex and International Organisation of Vine and Wine or OIV.
The product standards , food safety standards , quality standards , standard packaging , label standard and standard drying practices for raisin will help increase export and also meet the private standards required in retail chains, thus will support value addition to grape growers and raisin manufacturer .
After becoming the first country from Asia to become the member of the Paris-based International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), India now aspires to become member of the World Wine Trade Group (WWTG), an informal grouping of industry representatives from wine-producing countries.
India has for the first time participated as an observer in the ongoing meeting of WWTG in Washington DC.
"We want to become a member of WWTP as it will help in the international trading of our wines," said Jagdish Holkar, chairman of Indian Grape Processing Board (IGPB).
OIV membership helps India get access to the state-of-the-art scientific knowledge about vines, wines and grapes. WWTG members include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and USA. The group has the representatives of both the industry as well as the government.
India is one of the major wine producers from the New World. It has also emerged as an important wine consumer. As a result, becoming a member of WWTG will help India trade wines.
WWTG developed Mutual Acceptance Agreement (MAA) on oenological practices recognises different wine-making practices prevalent in different countries without using them as trade hurdles by the signatories.
Grape farmers in Cumbum valley in the district have started cultivating Red Globe, one of the high-end export variety on a trial basis. Some 10 farmers in the region have converted a portion of their vineyards to cultivate this Red Globe variety, which have very large seeds and are largely cultivated in California in the US and Australia. The farmers in Cumbum said the grape variety is fetching them good prices though they are in the initial stages of mastering the art of growing this fruit, to reap its full benefits.
K Mukundan, president of Grape Growers Association in Surulipatti said that 10 farmers have converted their one-acre vineyard for the Red Globe variety where they earlier cultivated the regular varieties of seeded Muscat grapes in the region. "The prices hover around Rs 80 to 120 per kg in the farms when compared to Rs 30 to 40 for regular grape varieties," he pointed out. The farmers have cultivated the grapes for one season with relatively good results. "We are learning how to get good yields from this grape variety which is new to the region," he said.
Varkey George, another grape farmer from Combai region said that the yields depend upon maturity of the vine and they are yet to figure out farming methods with this variety. "It may take another two years to understand the vine and the yield," he mentioned. The grape variety is cultivated for the last one year in the region. Earlier, the farmers tried Sarath seedless variety in their farms. "The supply of grapes is less at present; hence the farmers get good prices. The supply will increase from next months as the grapes will be brought from Maharashtra bringing down the prices," Mukundan said.
Cumbum valley is rich with 2,000 hectares of vineyards while more than 5,000 farmers are involved in cultivating grapes. With abundant yields of regular varieties during the seasons, the farmers suffer without prices and trying out with newer and better varieties will be an advantage for them, they opined.
Meanwhile, the farmers also expressed that the district horticulture department should help them with technical assistance while trying out new varieties. The National Research Centre for Grapes in Pune undertakes various research activities on grapes. Sending out a group of farmers to this institute periodically or bringing experts from there will be beneficial for grape farmers, Mukundan opined.
Horticulture officials in Cumbum confirmed that a group of farmers are involved in raising Red Globe on an experimental basis. However, the officials said that the Cumbum farmers tend to prune the vines twice in a year unlike the global practice of pruning them once. "Pruning twice a year is not advisable and we told the farmers not to use the same method on Red Globe as well. They are into learning stages and will master the variety in the coming years," an horticulture official said.
Connoisseurs of wine will now be able to trace the grapes used in a particular wine and also find out the blending proportion used while making it. WineNet, a web-based certification and traceability system for wine products exported from India, launched by the Indian Grape Processing Board (IGPB), promises to not just provide information on a variety of wines and their origin but also act as a surveillance system to ensure the wine produced and marketed adheres to Indian as well as international standards of consumption.
The system has in place various modules, including the registration of vineyards. So, vineyards across the country can register under the IGPB by filling in registering details of the vineyard owner, its address, contact details and farm details among others. This registration is done by state government agencies. "Wine grape growers will need to apply for registering their farm. A 12-digit registration number will be generated in the system for each farm plot and the registration authority will issue the registration certificate plot-wise to the farmer with the help of this system," said Dhananjay Datar, chief operating officer, IGPB.
The system will facilitate registration and renewal of wineries, as wineries, distributors, wine importers and exporters will register on WineNet. "A winery that exports directly or supplies wine to an exporter will have to register under IGPB. A user identification and password will be generated for each registration, which will enable the winery to register its consignments for online fitness certificate," Datar said.
Among other procedures, the IGPB will then issue the online fitness certificate which will be made available on Winenet. The software will help consumers know the history of a particular wine: from where its grapes have originated to the proportion of blending, the wine's age and other details. Even the faults in a particular product can be traced as the system will keep a record of all wines produced.
Meanwhile, the board has opposed India's decision to drastically cut customs duties on wines and spirits from 150% to 40%, stating that it will lead to notional losses for the wine sector amounting to Rs 5,000 crore. Jagdish Holkar, chairman, IGPB told TOI that they have requested the minister of commerce and industries, Anand Sharma, as well as others to revoke this decision.
"Wine industry in India is facing a challenge from cheap-priced wines flowing in from all over the world with reduced import duties. Further reduction in import duties on imported wines will affect small winery owners and grape growers who have invested huge funds in establishing vineyards for producing quality wine grapes. They will suffer huge losses as they will not able to compete with cheap wines coming in the market, resulting in closure of small wineries," said Holkar.
He added that the reduction in import duty will mean trouble for the domestic wine sector and will affect direct employment of 50,000 families employed in this sector. "In addition, we have also requested the government to abolish the duty-free scheme for wines for star hotels. Due to heavy glut and reduction in wine consumption in rest of the world, cheap wines are coming to India as a potential market for them, whereas due to high production cost of grapes and wine, Indian wineries are facing tough competition. Imported wine sales are increasing each year. Of these, 70% wines are imported through the 'duty free license'," Holkar said.
After banning the sale of gutkha and paan masala earlier this month, Karnataka is now seeking a relief package from the Centre to bail out arecanut farmers. The arecanut farmers have been suffering due to unseasonal rains, drought, increased pest and disease attack, higher input costs and price fluctuation.
The state government has also sought another Rs 110 crore for grape and pomegranate growers who have suffered crop losses due to drought and pest attack.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah met Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday and sought an assistance of Rs 200 crore for arecanut farmers. The state intends to implement some of the recommendations of Gorak Singh Committee that includes rehabilitation of Yellow Leaf Disease (YLD) affected gardens and waiver of loans and interest.
It has also proposed to provide a package for good management practices, multi-species cropping and promotion of alternative uses of arecanut among others.
The state government proposes to provide relief to about 10,000 farmers who have an area of 7,530 hectare of areca gardens affected by YLD.
In Karnataka, arecanut is grown on about 200,000 hectares and the production was around 224,000 tonnes in 2010-11. At a national level, the crop is cultivated on around 400,000 hectares and the production was estimated at 477,000 tonnes. Over a million farmer families are involved in the cultivation of arecanut in Karnataka, Kerala, Assam and five other states.
Siddaramaiah has also urged Pawar to provide another Rs 110 crore towards compensating grape and pomegranate growers in the state. Due to severe drought conditions in grape-growing districts of Bijapur, Bagalkot and Belgaum, grape orchards are drying up.
Grape is a perennial crop and therefore, farmers cannot switch over to other crops immediately. Since the groundwater reserve has also depleted, the situation is critical and farmers have no choice but to bring water from far away places through tankers to save their orchards.
The total area under grapes in Karnataka is 12,800 hectares of which about 8,000 hectares have been affected, causing hardship for nearly 5,000 farmers.
In order to help these farmers, the state government has sought an assistance of Rs 10 crore from the Centre which will be used to provide them irrigation facilities, mulching and shadenet for the grape vines to prevent the loss of moisture and avoid sunburn.
In addition to this, the state government has sought another Rs 100 crore from the Centre for pomegranate growers. The pomegranate crop has been affected by bacterial blight in the last 6-7 years. The drought during the last two years has added to the distress of farmers. It is estimated that over 60,000 tonnes of pomegranate crop, valued around Rs 300 crore is being lost annually, thereby causing loss of export opportunities.
In order to help these farmers, the state government has sought a special package consisting of waiver of loan and interest availed from cooperative and nationalized banks, assistance for adopting good management practices, support for rainwater harvesting and support for post harvest management techniques among others.
Karnataka has a horticulture area of about 2 million hectares with an annual production of about 160 tonnes. Export of horticulture produce brings in an income of Rs 4,500 crore to growers annually.
Severe water scarcity in the state has not impacted the export of grapes as growers this year have exported 11,000 tonne more grapes than the previous year.
Grapes are largely cultivated in Nashik, Sangli, Pune, Latur, Osmanabad, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad and Beed districts of Maharashtra. Many of these places are drought-prone. The state has recorded 26,234 tonne grape export so far in the current year, as against 15,330 tonne in March 2012. The export will continue till mid April, a senior officer from state horticulture department said.
Andhra Pradesh, which also grows and exports grapes, has reported 12 tonne of export to the European Union (EU). The country's total grape export stands at 26,246 tonne. Andhra Pradesh is also facing severe water shortage and like Maharashtra farmers, grape growers watered the vineyards by purchasing water tankers. It has increased the input cost, but farmers earn the highest rate through export to EU countries.
Statistics released by Grapenet service stated that Maharashtra has exported 26,234 tonne grapes so far to EU member countries, mainly to the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Grapenet is a software, developed by the union government to keep track of the fruit right from the vineyard to the consumer.
It also provides quality assurance as EU has stringent rules and regulations for import of food items and fruits. The service is provided by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) of the union agriculture ministry.
Maharashtra is a leading exporter of grapes in the country, followed by Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The pruning of grapes started in November 2012, which partly helped in advancing the period of maturity of grapes. Once the grapes were ready to harvest, farmers immediately put the produce up for sale, the officer said.
The UK, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland have already posted their orders for grapes. Out of the total export, 13,639 tonne will go to the Netherlands, 6,277 tonne will go to the UK and 1,810 tonne will be sent to Sweden. The Grapenet system has registered around 18,007 plots from the three states-Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which cultivate export quality grapes. Only after passing the required tests are grapes permitted to be exported.
The exports of fresh grapes are off to a good start for the 2013 season on strong demand from traditional markets in the European Union.
Shipments to European Union, so far, have almost doubled to over 3,755 tonnes against corresponding last year’s 1,906 tonnes, according to data from GrapeNet under the Agricultural and Processed Foods Exports Development Authority (Apeda).
GrapeNet is an online pesticide residue traceability software system for monitoring fresh grape exports from the Indian farms to the retail shelves in the EU.
However, the total export volumes so far, are expected to be much higher if the shipments to Bangladesh and Nepal were considered.
Officials at Apeda said the season has started strong and progressing well. “It appears that the last year’s export volumes would be sustained,” they said. Last year India exported 1.085 lakh tonnes of fresh grapes valued at Rs 602.86 crore.
“It has been a good beginning and the export demand is better than last year. Even the export realisations are good this year, up by Rs 15-20 a kg,” said Ashok Gaekwad, President of Maharashtra Grape Growers Association. Last year, the realisations ranged between Rs 40 and Rs 45 a kg.
The drought last year in parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka doesn’t seem to have had any impact on exports. Though some areas in Nashik, Solapur and even Sangli faced scanty rains, growers had taken enough care to irrigate the grapevines, Gaekwad said.
The output this year seems normal, despite scanty rains, said a senior scientist at the National Research Centre for Grapes in Pune. However, the drought has increased the cultivation costs as farmers were forced to buy water in tankers to irrigate their vineyards.
Bulk of the shipments, so far, has been to the Netherlands at 1,764 tonnes, the United Kingdom at 1,302 tonnes and Sweden 508 tonnes. The Netherlands is the largest importer of Indian fresh grapes in value terms, while Bangladesh tops the chart in volume terms.
The Maharashtra government plans to chalk out a five-year export promotion programme especially for grapes with the assistance of the Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority of India (APEDA).The programme will include activities like increasing grape export markets, exploring new markets and upgrading infrastructure like pack- houses. The programme will be jointly funded by the state government and APEDA.A meeting was recently held at Mantralaya in Mumbai with state horticulture minister Vijaykumar Gavit in the chair, to boost the export of grapes from Maharashtra. Among those present were principal secretary (agriculture & horticulture) Sudhirkumar Goyal, president of the Grapes Exporters' Association of India (GEAI) Jagannath Khapare and officials from APEDA and the National Research Centre (NRC)."The state government has taken initiatives to increase exports from the state. Accordingly, the state government plans to chalk out a five-year programme with APEDA's assistance. The programme will include increasing grape export markets, exploring new markets and upgrading infrastructure for exports," said Jagannath Khapre, president, GEAI. "The meeting also decided to send a delegation led by APEDA officials to Europe after the grape season to discuss export-related issues. A meeting with the authorities of Netherlands has been scheduled in May.""Exports from Maharashtra began in 1990 and pack-houses, set up at that time, have become old. Hence, the government plans to upgrade them and provide financial assistance to those set up by 2000. A decision in this regard is likely to be taken shortly by the state government," he said.Maharashtra contributes 90% to the country's export, and Nashik district, known for producing a large quantity of grapes, contribute 75% of Maharashtra's exports. In 2010, around 45,000metric tonnes of grapes were exported from Maharashtra, including 35,671 metric tonnes from Nashik district. In 2011, grape exports from Maharashtra were badly affected due to unseasonal rains affecting vineyards. In 2011, Maharashtra exported around 25,000 metric tonnes of grapes, including 15,000 tonnes from Nashik district.
The export of table-grapes from Nashik district has increased by 20% to 18,000 tonnes this year, as compared to that of last year and it is expected to reach 24,000 tonnes by the end of April.
"Around 1,500 containers (18,000 tonnes) from Nashik district have been exported so far by April 7 and it is expected to reach upto 2,000 containers by April end. In the last grape season 2011 (Jan-April), around 1,250 containers (15,000 tonnes) were exported from the district," a senior agriculture offi-cer said.
"Around 1,500 containers have been exported from Nashik district to around 14 countries, including Netherland, , UK , Sweden , Germany and Denmark," he said. One container accomodates around 12 tonne of grapes.
Maharashtra contributes 90% to the country's export. Nashik district, known for its grape produce, contributes 75%of the state's grape export.
On February 9, Nashik had recorded a minimum temperature of 2.7 degree Celsius, while in Niphad tehsil it was 0.2 degree Celsius. Around 1,500 hectares of vineyards, were affected due to the low temperatures. Grape export which was earlier projected at 30,000 metric tonnes, will possibly drop to 24,000 tonnes," sources said.
In the current grape season 2012 (January-April), the Office of the District Agriculture Superintendent Officer has registered around 15,499 vineyards with a total area of 10,600 hectares for grape export. Last grape season, around 12,888 vineyards with the total area of 9,308 hectares were registered with the office of the District Agriculture Superintendent Officer.
Nashik district is registering continuous growth in grape export, every year.
In the last nine years, Nashik's grape exports have increased seven-fold from 3,775.37 tonnes in 2002 to 35,671 tonnes in 2010.
However in 2011, exports sharply declined by 58% to 15,000 metric tonnes following unseasonal rains which adversely affected the district's vineyards.