Indian bananas set to reach European Union markets

Pune, Mar 30 | Updated: Mar 31 2007, 07:42am hrs
Bananas from Jalgaon and Hingoli districts could find their way into the European Union (EU)s markets during the next season. Currently there are hardly any exports of this fruit from India. For the last three years attempts have been made to crack this market by sending a couple of containers to the Middle East.

Armed with the learnings from these export efforts, the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB) is hoping to make some headway in the tougher EU market. To enable this, MSABM and Mahabanana, an organisation of banana growers in Maharashtra, is setting up two Export Facility Centres (EFC).

The EFC will provide facilities such as washing, cooling, grading and packing of bananas for exporting. These processed bananas could then be exported to the EU, Sunil Pawar, GM of MSAMB said. We produce over one-crore metric tonne (mt) bananas annually but still we are unable to export as we do not have the processing units, he said.

India is the largest producer of bananas in the world. Banana is grown on 4.82 lakh hectare in the country with Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra holding the top two spots. Within Maharashtra, the Jalgaon district accounts for 74% of the states production. Maharashtras annual production is around 43 lakh mt bananas.

Apart from Jalgaon, banana is also grown in Nanded, Dhule, Hingoli, Nandurbar, Buldhana, Wardha and Parbhani districts because of which this region has been declared an Agri Export Zone (AEZ) for bananas by Apeda and MSAMB. Mahendra Devare, manager, Mahabanana, said the EFCs were coming up at Savda in Jalgaon and Vasmat in Hingoli with an investment of Rs 10 crore. It will have a cold storage capacity of 25 MT, pre-cooling facility of 5 metric tonne bananas, as well as handling, packing and ripening chambers.

The board will also open 25 banana collection centres in the AEZ. Mahabanana will help the farmers receive certificates for export and guidance for marketing these bananas, Devare said.

The global banana trade is pegged at $4.5 billion. The EU is a big importer of bananas and had imported 38 lakh tonne of bananas in 2005. The EU, US and Japan account for 67% of the imports and India will hope to begin with a small share of this market.