Grape farmers and traders have decided to continue transactions in old currency notes to keep the business afloat and fight cash crunch due to demonetisation of high-value notes, top industry sources said. Fortunately, Indian grapes are in huge demand in Bangladesh this season.
While it will be difficult to quantify the amount of exports till date to Bangladesh, farmers have decided to accept the old high-denomination notes as most exports to this country happen in the Indian currency, said Jagannath Khapre, president, All India Grape Exporters Association (AIGEA).
The first container of grapes to Europe is already on way and there should be no major hassles in export since most of the payment is done through the banking channels, he said.
The country’s grape exports are expected to rise significantly this season owing to the bad crop conditions in Chile, one of the largest exporters of grape in the world. The country is likely to cross 1.92 lakh tonne-mark (highest till date) this year due to the good monsoon and the prevailing good weather conditions in the growing regions.
There is some concern over the dropping temperatures in Nashik region. Last week, some producers from across Nashik district had submitted a memorandum to Union roads and transport minister Nitin Gadkari to seek his intervention with the government and the Nashik District Central Co-operative Bank (NDCCB) for extension of crop loans to one lakh farmers who had been left without funds. The NDCCB fell short of funds. According to industry people, the bank has not disbursed loans as it is yet to receive money.
The growth of grapes gets affected by 25% if the minimum temperature drops below 9 degrees celsius and by 50% if the temperature drops below 5 degrees celsius. Grapes develop cracks if the temperature goes below 4 degrees Celsius. Farmers have to take extra measures like setting up a bonfire and irrigating vineyards through drips. This is the month when farmers have to prune the vines to help the clusters to grow in proper proportion and without loans from the NDCC they do not have enough funds for these operations including for labour charges and pesticides.
Earlier, Khapre had said that grape exports from Chile to the European Union is likely to be impacted this season because of the bad weather in that country and if India plays its cards right, the country could benefit and improve exports this year.
Exports from India to Russia and Bangladesh had reduced last year. If these countries increase imports then again India could gain, he said. The demand will rise and if the currency improves, exports could rise, he said.
Last year, the country exported around 84,000 tonne of grapes to Europe. This number could improve by 5-7%, according to market sources. The European Union (EU) has agreed to retain the residue levels of chlormequat chloride (CCL), a plant growth regulator at 0.05 ppm (papers per million ), for a period of two years and this comes as a major shot in the arm for Indian exporters.
Indian grapes began to find favour after 2014 when 1.92 lakh tonne of grapes were exported by traders to around 94 countries. Of this Europe and the UK together accounted for the largest share of 65,000 tonne.
Nashik district recorded the highest ever export of 108,000 tonne in the last grape season 2015-16, against 49,768 tonne in 2014-15. Of the total 108,000 tonne of grape exports, 75,000 metric tonne were exported to European countries, while the rest 33,000 tonne grapes were exported to non-European countries like Russia, Bangladesh, China, Dubai etc.
Canada has also granted market access for the Indian fresh grapes. This follows the recent Indo-Canadian bilateral discussions held in New Delhi. However, the Indian exporters will be able to take advantage of this development only from the next season. Canada has imposed conditions that exporters have to register the vineyards and pack houses, and maintain traceability.
The total area under grape plantation across the country is estimated at 3.50 lakh acres, including 2.75 lakh acres in Maharashtra, and rest 75,000 acres are in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.