Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Apr 02, 2005
Agri-Biz & Commodities
Horticulture/Fruits & Vegetables
Industry & Economy - Exports & Imports
Bananas, oranges tag on to Maharashtra's export kitty
Pune , April 1
THE Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB) is all set to add a few more products to its export kitty.
Mahamango, mahaanaar (pomegranate) and mahagrapes have been doing the rounds for the last couple of years. But now, it is the turn of bananas and oranges to be introduced to the global palate.
A sample container of the grandnaine variety of banana was sent to the Dubai market last month and was received favourably, Dr R.M. Kharche, Managing Director, MSAMB, told Business Line. He said banana being a Cavendish product required utmost care, and MSAMB is prepared to have the required infrastructure set up.
Maharashtra has about 65,000 hectares under banana cultivation and Jalgaon contributes close to 40,000 hectares (24 lakh tonnes a year). Tamil Nadu comes first with about 88,000 hectares, with a production of 44 lakh tonnes a year.
Dr Kharche said Jalgaon has been earmarked for the pilot project with international standards.
APEDA (Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) has given the mandate for the project and another tehsil area, Basmath Nagar in Hingoli district, catering to about 6,000 hectares (3.5 lakh tonnes), would be involved after the pilot project has been set up, he said.
The investment for the project would be about Rs 3 crore. The work is expected to begin by August and would be completed by the year-end, he said.
Dr Kharche said the technology for proper care of bananas has been brought in from the Philippines. He said training programmes for farmers have to be undertaken as bananas do not fall into the category of exports.
The banana's flower must be kept in a polythene bag and cut after six hands develop. This is then cut, hung on a pulley and taken to the pack house where it is dropped directly into the water for washing.
The washing time is about 20 minutes after which it is moved to the cooling chamber maintained at 14 degree Celsius.
After about 20 days, the bananas are packed in 13-kg boxes (the international standard) and shipped to their destinations, said Dr Kharche.
Mr Borade, Advisor, Exports, MSAMB, said although bananas were being sent to West Asia, it seems to be a loss making effort. This year, due to shortage of bananas from other international markets, the Indian banana has been accepted at the rate of 24 dirhams (Rs 285.75) per box of 13kg.
Mr Borade said initially one or two containers would be shipped to West Asia, and the markets of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq would be tapped later.
Currently, the markets of Iran and Iraq do not get adequate banana supply, he said, while noting that the famed Kerala bananas, used to make vegetarian dishes, catered to these markets.
Mr Borade said the Bhagwa (red) variety of pomegranate has been accepted by the European and the UK markets and around 40 containers of these would be shipped to these markets. He said total exports would touch 15,000 tonnes, up from 5,000 tonnes, and its value would be close to Rs 25 crore, up from Rs 5 crore.
Dr Kharche said about one lakh hectares of land were under pomegranate cultivation, which has a production capacity of close to eight lakh tonnes. Maharashtra caters to about 85 per cent of the total produce. He added that to tap the export market, many processing units must be set up.
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