Indian fruit and veg exports plummet by 70% during lockdown

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Indian fruit and veg exports plummet by 70% during lockdown

Indian exports of fruits and vegetables have fallen by about 70% since the lockdown began in late March, largely because of high air freight charges, India's Economic Times reported.

With airlines increasing their freight charges by as much as 166% to Rs 250 (US$3.30) per kilo, this trade has taken a hit, exporters said.

In India, the March-May period is peak season for the export of fruits and vegetables. An official of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) said that from an average of 400,000 metric tons (MT) a month in the previous year, shipments are down to 120,000MT a month now.

“We have seen a 70% drop in business since the lockdown happened. It’s a difficult time for the exporters and only when flights resume, the situation will improve,” Narendra Bhatia, partner at exporter Asar Brothers, was quoted as saying.

“We are getting a number of queries from new markets in Russia, Singapore and Indonesia, but the high freight charges are a deterrent to venture into these markets.”

Bhatia said that more flights need to operate and government assistance is required to push exports.

“There is so much uncertainty from sourcing fruits and vegetables to get cargo slots and timely schedule of flights that exporters have stopped giving commitments,” he said.

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