Indian government on Thursday unveiled the web-based
GrapeNet software developed by Agricultural and Processed
Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).
It will provide traceability regarding the table grapes
exported from India to European Union (EU).
Launching the software in New Delhi, Minister of State
for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said: " Importers, export
regulation authorities here and abroad, or anyone using
it can access the information on a computer at will
about any grape export transaction."
The present level of exports (2005-06) is of the order
of about 40 million Euros. About 55,000 MT of grapes
were exported in 2005-06 out of a total production of
around 1.5 million MT. Maharashtra alone exports 80%
of the total.
Ashok Gaikwad, the Chairman of N.D. Wines, in Nashik
has been exporting quality grapes since 1993. He is
one of the biggest exporters from this region. Also
the President of Maharashtra Grape Growers Association,
he exports to supermarket chains like Tesco and Sainsbury.
Reflecting in a personal interview with him last week,
he conceded that the export had indeed suffered 3-4
years ago due to excess of MRL- Minimal Residue Level.
'We do not use banned chemicals anymore and do the chemical
spraying at least 60 days before the harvesting. We
also send the samples regularly for checks for MRL regularly
to the lab. We have sorted out the quality complaints
moving ahead with improving quality as well as quantity,'
Officials confirm that this software will help in raising
the confidence of importers by enabling monitoring of
pesticide residue and by achieving product standardization
and thus boost grape exports to EU.
In the last few years, Indian grapes exported to European
Union had met with quality complaints from importers.
In 2003, the European Commission had issued 17 rapid
alert notifications on the ground of detection of high
levels of pesticide residues in Indian grapes.
APEDA officials also mirror Gaikwad's sentiments about
the quality and affirmed that the quality complaints
have been fully resolved, and the new software would
give a further fillip to ensure better quality of grape
exports from India.
Traceability has helped 40,000 grape growers like Ashok
Gaikwad to apply uniform farming practices. There is
complete accountability in the system and consequently,
farmers have earned 40% more value for their grapes.
Export value has grown from €8 to €11.5 for
a pack of 5 kg in 06-07
With the export price of Thompson Seedless and Flaming
grapes ruling at more than 3 times that of wine grapes
it appears to be a better proposition for the Nashik
farmers . Wine grapes fetch between Rs.25-Rs.35 a kg.
(€0.60) compared to over € 2.00 a kg. for
the grapes for export. Even after accounting for much
less yield and more spraying and better viticulture
practices it seems to be more remunerative. The software
should tilt the balance more in the favour of table
grapes for export.
Yet Mr. Gaikwad and his partners have hedged their
bets and opted to grow wine grapes as well and make
their own wine too, which apart from being sold in bulk
to Sula is being sold in the domestic market under ND
label as well. 'This is our diversification move, as
wine is becoming more popular,' says Manik Patil, a
grape grower and one of the five Directors.
It seems certain that with the help of the software
developed with the help of APEDA, the quality of grapes
for exports will get even better and so will the turnover,
reflecting a bright future for the quality of wine grapes