Maharashtra grape growers to form federation of farmer producer companies for marketing

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Published: July 18, 2019 1:34:16 AM

It is a fact that Maharashtra’s Nashik district recorded an all-time high export of 1.43 lakh tonne of grapes during the just concluded grape season. More than 1.50 lakh hectare in the district alone comes under grape cultivation and some 50,000 farmers are associated with grape farming.

Maharashtra, grape, grape grower, federation of farmer, grape production,Nashik,Sahyadri This season, Sahyadri emerged as the largest exporter having exported 1,459 containers (around 22,000 tonne) of grapes to various world markets this season of 2018-2019. (File/ Agencies)

Despite being a leader in export and domestic markets, grape farmers in Nashik district continue to remain unorganised and marketing remains a weak point with most. To tackle this, the Maharashtra Grape Growers Association (MGGA) has decided to take the lead and bring farmer producer companies associated with grape farming under a common federation for grapes.

It is a fact that Maharashtra’s Nashik district recorded an all-time high export of 1.43 lakh tonne of grapes during the just concluded grape season. More than 1.50 lakh hectare in the district alone comes under grape cultivation and some 50,000 farmers are associated with grape farming.

Kailas Bhosale, secretary of the association, told FE that marketing had continued to remain a huge challenge for most farmers. “There are several factors involved right from getting the right prices for grapes, lack of insurance, traders not honouring their financial commitments and the absence of a platform for addressing farmer grievances,” He said the effort was to bring farmers together to form farmer producer companies that in turn could come together to market their produce through a common platform.

“At present, most farmers end up contracting their produce to commission agents or traders and there have been several cases of traders duping farmers of their money.”

Through the federation, they could also invite traders to register so that the farmers end up selling their produce only to registered traders, he said, citing the example of APEDA where grape growers have to register themselves with GrapeNet.

A meeting was held in Nashik on this issue where all the stakeholders involved in grape farming came together to discuss challenges. Bhosale cited the recent example of grape growers in Sangli losing Rs 100 crore to traders from other states. Usually traders get a credit of 15 days but farmers realised that traders either stopped answering their calls or simply changed their cell numbers.

Moreover, because of the unorganised nature of the market, farmers end up taking whatever prices they get, he said, adding that in the season that was just concluded, farmers received barely Rs 18-36 per kg for the fruit. The situation was similar in exports as well where traders end up dictating their price, he said.
He pointed most farmer producer companies deal with multiple commodities and there were fewer such outfits that solely deal in grapes. Therefore, they were attempting to bring farmers together to form farmer producer companies first and then these could come together to form a federation, he said.

Currently, Sahyadri Farmer Producer Company is among the biggest farmer producer companies associated with grapes. This season, Sahyadri emerged as the largest exporter having exported 1,459 containers (around 22,000 tonne) of grapes to various world markets this season of 2018-2019. Sahyadri FPC enjoys a 15% share of India’s grape export. The company has over 80,00 marginal fruit and vegetable farmers associated with it.

Dabholkar Parivar Gat is another farmer producer company that will be associated with this effort, he said. Around 300-400 farmers are expected to become part of this effort that also seeks to establish a brand for grapes from Nashik. Wholesale prices of grapes in Maharashtra were on a downward spiral, thanks to the heavy arrivals in the market this season. Prices of grapes had gone down by nearly 30% in the domestic markets to Rs 10-16 per kg for average quality and `25/kg for export markets.

This season, Indian exporters had come across issues in the middle of the season with Russia and Sri Lanka demanding Pest-free Area certificates.
According to exporters and containers from India lying uncleared for weeks in the port of St Petersburg. Bhosale said the issues like these sorted out if farmers tackle it together.

Russia turned out to be a major market for India this season. Russia is among the largest importers of grapes. Last year, exports grew 18.19 %, and 15 % of the total exports were in Russia. The country exports mainly to European countries. Russia and China are other major markets which could be tackled on a united basis, he said.

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