Farmers in Sangli, the biggest raisin production centre in Maharashra, are keeping their fingers crossed over the current spell of rain in the state. Early this year, hailstorms hit the grape crop in the region and Sangli is likely to feel the heat this time, say farmers. “This year, raisin production came down to 15,000 tonne as against 22,000 tonne last year owing to hailstorms,” says Subhash Arve, who looks after the Sangli chapter of the Maharashtra State Grape Growers Association. Exports fell by 20% this year, traders in the region say.
If the rains continue for a week, they may impact the crop for the 2015 season.
Of the 1.5 lakh-odd acres grape is cultivated on, 40% end up with raisin crop while 60% are used for table and wine grapes. According to Manoj Mali, president, Sangli Tasgaon Raisin Merchants Association, annual raisin trade in the country exceeds R1500 crore and, of this, around R100 crore ends up as export. This year, he expects exports to touch R150 crore if the weather holds up.
Raisins in Sangli command a good price in the range of R200-525 per kg. This is because farmers here grow grapes for raisin production. In other regions, raisin ends up as a by-product which does not find a good market. Because of this there is a huge difference in quality, to the extent that raisins produced in Nashik, another grape growing region in the state, get rates of R70-160 per kg.
Arunbhai Mansuri, president, Nashik Raisin Producers Association, says there should be a minor difference in prices between the regions. Making raisins is more lucrative in Sangli and since traders control the prices, there is little that farmers can do, he says.
Mali begs to differ and says farmers in Sangli make more efforts for raisin production.