Table grape growers in the state of Maharashtra could soon be boosted by the formation of a federation which would improve marketing efforts, according to the Financial Express.
The state's Nashik is the leading production and export area for the fruit, having last season reached record exports of 143,000 metric tons (MT).
But despite this success, the area's grape farmers have long-remained unorganized, an issue that the Maharashtra Grape Growers Association (MGGA) has decided to tackle.
This could have positive implications for the 50,000 farmers associated with grape farming in the district, who grow across 150,000 hectares of farmland.
One of the goals the federation would have would be to improve marketing, which is currently a big challenge for most farmers, says the publication.
Kailas Bhosale, the secretary of the association, was quoted as saying: “There are several factors involved right from getting the right prices for grapes, lack of insurance, traders not honoring their financial commitments and the absence of a platform for addressing farmer grievances.”
Yet he believes farmer producer companies, able to market produce together through a common platform, would be more effective.
This strategy would help eliminate the common risks posed by farmers needing to rely on agents or traders.
“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," Bhosale was quoted as saying.
Moreover, because of the unorganized nature of the market, farmers end up taking whatever prices they get, he says. For example, he notes that in the season that just concluded, farmers received barely Rs 18-36 per kg (US$0.26 - US$0.52) for the fruit.
The situation was similar in the export campaign as well because traders ended up dictating their price, he adds.
But the federation could invite traders to register so that local farmers only sell their produce to registered traders. This approach would follow the example of APEDA, in which grape growers have to register themselves with GrapeNet.