Like most fruits and vegetables this season, pomegranates too are seeing a downward trend in prices in Maharashtra. Thanks to a bumper harvest and heat condition, pomegranate prices have dropped to Rs 2-30 per kg in several key growing regions. Last year, the prices were to the tune of Rs 50-60 per kg the same time.
According to Prabhakar Chandane, chairman of Maharashtra Pomegranate Growers Research Association (MPGRA), production this season has increased by nearly 2,00,000 to 2,50 000 tonne to touch some 18 lakh tonne. The quality has been affected due to high temperature although there has been a bumper crop due to good monsoon the previous year, he said.
Moreover, because of the heat, almost all fruits – mangoes, grapes, oranges and watermelons – are in the market at the same time, impacting the prices. A couple of seasons ago, the fruit was affected by bacterial blight (oily spot) disease that had reduced production by around 70%. However, that has not happened this year, which resulted in the overproduction, he said.
Significantly, other states including Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have begun cultivating pomegranates. Maharashtra leads the pomegranate cultivation with approximately 1,75,000 hectare and other states totalling 30,000 to 40,000 hectare. Solapur is the largest producing region followed by Nashik and Sangli.
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The area under cultivation in Solapur is 35,000 hectares followed by Nashik with 25,000 hectares. “The general yield is between 10 to 15 tonne per hectare. Maharashtra contributes 90% to the country’s total pomegranate production.
Moreover, this season, the flowering has happened late which has led to a delay in harvesting. Compared to 20,000 tonne of exports in the 2015-16 season, this season’s exports have been down and so far 200 tonne have gone to Europe.
The European markets have been saturated with heavy arrival of pomegranate and grapes from Peru, Chile and South Africa, effectively stopping Indian exports. Last year this time, the country’s first export consignment of around 1.3 tonne of pomegranates reached Miami, Florida. For exports, West Asia continues to remain one of the biggest markets for India. Last year, India also exported pomegranates to countries such as Bangladesh, Bahrain, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands.