MahaOrange, Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB) and APEDA have joined hands this year to ensure improved quality of the fruit so that exports pick up.
Indian oranges are likely to find their way to new markets in Singapore and Gulf countries this season. MahaOrange, Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB) and APEDA have joined hands this year to ensure improved quality of the fruit so that exports pick up. Although oranges from Nagpur are known for their flavour and sweetness throughout the country, efforts to export these have not been very successful. Orange festivals have also been planned across Maharashtra to promote the fruit in the domestic market.
“Around 7.5 tonne of oranges have been produced in the Ambiya Bahar season that begins in October. However, farmers are not getting remunerative prices in the absence of a effective marketing and distribution system. The export facilitation centre that has come up at Karanja Ghadage (in Nagpur) aims to fill this gap,” Milind Akare, MD, MSAMB said.
There was demand from farmers and local elected representatives to give a push to orange exports at the recent meet of officials from the three organisations held at the Centre. Akare said the focus will be on West Asia and Far East.
“The Vashi Exporters Association approached us and have decided to help with exports. We are still trying to decide whether the fruit can be sent in boxes or containers and will also be trying both air and sea and after a month will decide which route could be more suitable,” he said. “The oranges will be sent under the MahaOrange brand,” he added.
According to Anant Gharad, chairman, MahaOrange, the new season promises to be good one for farmers subject to weather. The Ambiya Bahar crop this time could be 15-20% higher than the previous year, he said without giving specifics. This time APEDA has assured all help to farmers and this could mean a good start for exports as well, he said. The Mrug season was good for farmers in the state with farmers getting around Rs 25,000 per tonne. Last year in the same season, farmers recieved around Rs 10,000 per tonne.
Prices of oranges have been volatile and had fallen by around 40-45% in Maharashtra in the last Ambiya Bahar season in light of a bumper crop. The Ambiya Bahar season begins from October and ends by February. The Mrug Bahar season is a shorter one from February to March.
Gharad felt that farmers could be successful in tapping markets in Gulf countries this year. Bangladesh continues to remain the largest market for India. The Association has 200-odd progressive farmers who are seeking to export thier produce. However, all depends on the market conditions, he said, unwilling to give out any estimates on the possible price that farmers could expect this season and also total production estimates as well. Markets in the Gulf would be easier to export since the norms may not be as stringent as other countries, he said. This time,exporters have also promised to make an effort,he added.
Pakistan and New Zealand are major competitors for Indian oranges. Exports to markets such as Russia and Europe from India are negligible. Last year, farmers had decided to tap the West Asia and plan to send a pilot consignment to see how well Indian oranges are received in these markets through MahaOrange — the apex body of the state’s orange growers’ co-operative societies — to boost production, processing, marketing and exports of oranges.
MahaOrange is expected to lead and co-ordinate efforts to promote and market oranges on the lines of MahaGrape,
MahaMango and MahaBanana. MahaOrange has signed the MoU with MSAMB to run the export facilitation centre at Karanja Ghadage and expects grading, packaging and branding of oranges to make a difference to orange prices in the country.
“While there is an effort to push export, all depends on the kind of prices farmers get in the domestic market as well. Farmers prefer domestic markets if they get a good price,” he pointed out.
Demand from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh has been less this year and the markets in South seek the green variety of oranges. Exports have been an issue since the Nagpur oranges have loose skin and a smaller shelf life unlike oranges from other countries. The fruits are not uniform in colour and have a loose skin reducing their shelf life, Gharad said.
To retain the flavour of Nagpur oranges, MahaOrange plans to create nurseries and get them registered so that standards are maintained at the ground level. The effort is to ensure that a farmer gets good rootstock and reduce C-grade variety of oranges that constitute 30-40% of the total production, Gharad added.
Maharashtra is the country’s largest producer and exporter of oranges. The area under orange cultivation in the state is about 1.21 lakh hectares and the total production exceeds 7 lakh tons annually, through two seasons — Ambia and Mruga. The orange is mostly cultivated in Vidarbha region in near about 80,000 hectares area and production is five lakh tonnes.
In Maharashtra, orange is cultivated in Amravati, Nagpur, Akola, Wardha and Yavatmal districts, with Amravati alone having 56,747 ha under orange cultivation.
Other places in the country where the fruit is grown are the northeast, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. However, oranges from Nagpur are considered the best in the country.