New varieties in the pipeline to enhance quality
Attracting more than 200 delegates, ranging from farmers to industrialists to entrepreneurs to policy makers, across the country, the first edition of the Indian Grape Forum 2019, organized by Media Today Group, was a grand success. The discussions centered on the whole gamut grape cultivation and trade and covered such issues as introduction of new varieties, expanding exports, new markets, on-line deliveries and so on. The forum also presented big opportunities to network and promote business.
Held on November 17 at Nashik, which is a major grape-growing region in Maharashtra, the event was inaugurated by Chief Guest S. K. Malhotra, Agriculture Commissioner, Department of Agriculture Cooperation of Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India. Sanjay Dave, Former Chairman, Codex Alimentarius Commission was the Convener, and PG Adsule, Former Director, NRCG was the Guest of Honour. Many experts and professionals attended the event, while a few Government bodies & Associations extended their support..
The forum took note of the heavy rains in Maharashtra since October that played spoil sport for fruit growers and traders. The incessant downpour caused widespread damage to high-value horticulture crops such as grapes, pomegranates and vegetables, due to which, farmers were facing several challenges in maintaining the quality and meeting trade commitments in different overseas markets.
In his theme address, Sanjay Dave, the Convener of the event, spoke about the need to promote fresh produce, to reprioritize the existing system so that production, value chain, logistics and related aspects are geared towards reaching out to the fresh products.
Inaugurating the event, Chief Guest S. K. Malhotra, Agriculture Commissioner in the Union government, underlined the need for proper safety norms. Expressing concern over the perishability of the produce, he stressed on the need to revamp the distribution system.
Jafar Naqvi, Chief Coordinator Media Today Group, in his address of welcome, emphasized the need to build a value chain, investing both in infrastructure and backend integration, to enable farmer grows quality produce.” On behalf of organizing committee, he extended his gratefulness to the sponsors, supporters and associates.
Indian Production and Trade Outlook
During the discussions, speakers said India’s grape production is estimated to come down by at least 100,000 tonnes as late rains delayed pruning. Despite reduced supplies, exports are expected to rise to a record 205,000 tons on strong demand from the European Union and Russia.
Vilas Shinde, MD & CEO, Sahyadri Farmers’ Producers Company shared his views on the “Policy Issues – Stakeholders’ Perspective”. He said, “Promotion of exports of agricultural products like grapes is a continuous process. The Government is seeking to export grapes to newer areas/countries by filing Market Access Requests for Grapes with a number of countries. Under the Agriculture Export Policy, Pune, Nasik and Sangli districts of Maharashtra have been identified as a cluster for export-oriented production of grapes.”
Meanwhile during the event, he also announced that they have introduced ARRA-32 grape variety to farmers. They have successfully cultivated it on three hectares after field trials of previously imported patented ARRA variety. It plans to increase the area under cultivation up to 3,000 hectares. He elaborated, “ARRA grapes in California are famous for surviving adverse weather conditions and have a sweet taste. Seedlings were brought by us. After the successful production of ARRA-15, ARRA-32 is next in line.”
“Grape growers in the State have been constantly exposed to natural disasters for the past several years. In this situation, the regional production of grapes is in danger. World-class varieties such as ARRA have been found to produce reliable and quality products, even in adverse weather conditions. Against this backdrop, Sahyadri has tried to provide comfort to the growers by importing these varieties.”
ARRA varieties are grown in 24 countries in six continents. India is now included in the list. “India’s grape growing farmers are getting benefits from the ARRA varieties to further consolidate their position in the global market. These patented ARRA table grapes are exportable varieties of white, red and black colour.”
Considering the huge potential in India, Shukrut Borade, from Maharashtra Rajya Draksha Bagaitdar Sangh (MRDBS) spoke on “New Varieties for Sustainability”. He elaborated on what the future holds for grapes in India, expansion plans into other regions and new varieties in the pipeline. He said, “Taste is an important factor in the breeding program, but another key aspect is how grower-friendly the new varieties are.” He asserted that growers need highly productive and grower-friendly cultivars to help them cut costs and remain profitable. He added that customers don’t talk about different varieties, but rather different grape colours and growers therefore need new and better varieties to replace old ones that are in declining popularity globally. The ability to supply grape varieties year-round is also important to be sustainable, he added.
Gaurav Garg, Associate VP, Marine Cargo, ICICI Lombard & Syed Meraj Naqvi, A&M Insurance Brokers Pvt. Ltd. explained the provisions of “Agri Finance and Insurance” in the Grape Business. They acknowledged that only a handful of FPCs have been able to become financially viable.
Demand for grapes has been showing an increasing trend. For sustainability in grape trading from India, there is a need to wisely prepare a plan to produce and supply quality grapes as per consumers’ choice. “Packaging has become an essential part of the global economy. Packaging not only caters to storage and enhances shelf life but also offers attractive presentation which also plays a significant role in revenue generation from the packaging,” said Pon Kumar Ramamoorthy, Assistant Director, Indian Institute of Packaging.
In his presentation “Packaging Solutions”, he highlighted that packaging is done in order to promote safe and healthy eating along with extending the shelf life of fruits. Michelle Peters, Reefer Business & Cold Chain Dv. Manager, South Asia at A P Moller – Maersk gave a presentation on “Supply Chain Logistics”. Because of the high perishable character of grapes, growers have to tolerate substantial pecuniary harms. If sale or a shipment of grapes is not conceivable in stipulated time, growers do grieve a lot. Supply chain management jointly with logistics incorporates manufacturing, procurement, transportation, distribution, and marketing to effectively compete in the marketplace.
Export Market Scenario
There is a phenomenal rise in export of grapes from India. “Indian grapes are reaching more than sixty counties. Market demand and consumer preferences are deciding supply of particular grape types in the market. So market intelligence has become a very important tool for sustaining grape supply in foreign market,” said Jagannath Khapre, President, All India Grape Exporters Association.
Considering the recent weather conditions he said, “The export of grapes to Bangladesh and the Middle East, which begins in November, will be delayed by about a month.” “Exports to Europe may also remain lower than the previous year.” Moderated by S. Jafar Navqi, the technical session had Nitin Ingale, Origin Fruit Direct B. V., The Netherlands, Anand Sejwal, President, Fresh Vegetables & Fruits exporters Association (VAFA) and Amit Kalya, Director of Kalya Exports who all explained the export market scenario.
They accepted that India is becoming an increasingly attractive market for European fruit and vegetable producers as income levels rise, while Indian exporters are also eyeing new opportunities in the European market. Nitin Ingale predicted that European exporters would focus increasingly on India.
They presupposed that India should also explore the possibility of export of grapes to Russian Federation and Ukraine. Concerted attention needs to be paid for exporting grapes to these countries. India has exported to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Moreover because of free trade agreements with Thailand and Singapore, exports of grapes are likely to accelerate. India needs to devise a proper marketing strategy and aggressive campaign to nurture these markets.
Forecasting and Projection 2025
The panel discussion moderated by Shitij Agarwal, CEO, Sahyadri Agri Retail, revolved on the theme “the future of fresh produce in India”. The panelists were Azhar Pathan, CEO, Desai Fruits & Vegetables Pvt. Ltd., Jaydeep B Suryawanshi, Manager B & M – Fruit & Vegetable, Big Basket and Jinen Ghelani, Managing Director, Prime Fresh. The discussion showed that the sustainable production methods in recent years have increasingly garnered popularity.
Value Addition – A Key Fundamental to Earn More Profits
Rupesh Chordiya, Vishaka Raisins, Rajendra Kumar, BDM – South & East Asia, Cravo Equipment Limited and Mukul Sareen, Director, Keep it Fresh gave valuable presentations on adding value to grapes from a commercial perspective. Their presentations covered such topics as Raisin Production and Export Market, Emerging Technologies for Increasing Productivity and Extension of Shelf Life of Fruits and Vegetables. They admitted that value addition in grapes and diversification of grape products provide good returns.
S Dave presented the important takeaways of the event; Chief Guest Dr. S. D. Sawant, Vice Chancellor, Konkan Krish Vidyapeeth delivered the valedictory address. He suggested that greater awareness needs to be created among the farming community about the production, supply and demand management.
Concluding the event on a high note, speakers were presented Mementos as a gesture of thanks for their valuable contribution by Dr. Sawant.
Indian Grape Industry Excellence Awards
At a brief ceremony at the conclusion of Indian Grape Forum, awards were presented as a token of acknowledgement for their great accomplishments and professionalism in their respective fields.
Lifetime Achievement Award
- Sanjay Dave, Former Chairman, Codex Alimentarius Commission.
- Maharashtra Rajya Draksha Bagaitdar Sangh (MRDBS)
- Indian Grape Exporters’ Association of India.
Industry Leadership Award
- Sahyadri Farmers’ Producer Company for being the leading Producer Company in India in the fruit and vegetable sector and exporting maximum containers of grapes to various world markets.
Overall, the conference was a great success providing a significant platform to all the exporters, importers, corporates, e-retailers etc to interact and enhance their business turnarounds.