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IGPB decides to take Fruit Wines under its Umbrella

Posted: Thursday, 18 July 2013 17:47

IGPB decides to take Fruit Wines under its Umbrella

July 18: Initially mandated to the activities relating to grape processing and making into wine, the Indian Grape Processing Board has decided to add fruit wines to its basket, besides the resins which would normally be considered a part of any grape processing activities, writes Subhash Arora who reports on the decisions taken at the last Board Meeting of the joint governmental-industry body set up to promote Indian wines

Click For Large ViewIt was emphasised  at the Board meeting with the Agriculture and Food Processing Industry that IGPB should also look into the promotion of fruit wines, particularly the North-Eastern States as there was a lot of scope; many fruit crops including the exotic varieties like Mulberry, Passion fruit, kiwi and jackfruit are already grown there in plenty.

It’s a pity that most of these states still ban the licensed production and sale of such wines-only wines made in the garage are allowed. There is a huge scope for much more production as the weather is very conducive for increasing the production and quality of such fruits. It is implicit that IGPB and the Ministry will help the fruit wine makers seeking to legalize the production at the State level. This will provide a lot of jobs and help the state economies.

Apple wine and other fruit wines have been highly successful in Himachal Pradesh and with the help from IGPB, the production can be increased manifold. With the price ranging generally from Rs.150-200 a bottle (the excise duty and VAT are negligible in HP) this can be an ideal choice for people who want to drink wine but find it inaccessible due to high prices. Nirvana Biosys in Haryana has been producing mango and lychee wines that have been generally accepted well by the customers, despite their seemingly high prices. Again, with IGPB getting actively involved, more units can be counted on in or nearer the cities of fruit cultivation like Dehradun in Uttaranchal Pradesh and Roorkee and Saharanpur in UP, thus creating several new jobs.

IGPB, which has been working mainly with (grape) wines, has also actively decided to take initiatives to strengthen the dry grapes (raisin-kishmish) sector in India. IGPB will also be expected to make efforts to develop standards for dry grapes and send to the FSSAI, the government agency entrusted with the task of enforcing the wine laws.  Incidentally, OIV, the Paris-based International Organization of Vine and Wine which India joined a couple of years ago, has a treasure of information regarding the raisin industry-many of its members are Muslim nations growing a huge quantity of grapes but making or drinking wine and other alcohols, is banned.

In an effort to sort out the messy issue of excise duties in the two states, the Board decided to write to both the State Governments of Maharashtra and Karnataka for inclusion of wine under GST.  A tricky and sensitive subject, this needs seriousness and a concentrated effort on the part of both the states. Although it is unrealistic to expect an immediate action, it is advisable to let the people in these states, with the headband slipping over the eyes, get a nudge and a request to be proactive and look beyond their blinkers, thus helping industry and consumers of both the states.  Apparently, the Minister Sharad Pawar has already requested the Chief Ministers of the two states. Though his efforts are appreciated by the industry, a lot more needs to be done beyond the lip service and the gentle pressure.

It is with a note of optimism that one can say that the work related to wine standards being undertaken by the IGPB is in the finalization stage and is expected to be ready to submit to FSSAI for taking action relating to the issue of notification. This is one of the most important aspects of the IGPB mandate and it would win a lot of appreciation if the action is completed within the announced period of 3 months.

Similarly, it was announced that the WineNet application project would may be completed in 2013-14 (implying March 2014). Never to slip on getting the fund allocation, the Board was informed that both Maharashtra and Karnataka (the principal protagonist states of wine production) have already taken the necessary approvals for availing of the funds for training the farmers, registration of vineyards and the printing of necessary literature.

When the charter of IGPB was issued 4 years ago, it was decided that the government would give the seed money and the industry would make efforts to contribute funds so that it may become more independent and industry-controlled. But as expected, there have been no such moves by the industry (in any case no results) which in any case is burdened with heavy fixed expenses and losses due to lower-than-expected sales. Therefore, it was also decided that IGPB should take immediate steps so that it may be fed the funds by the Fed to continue for 4 more years, 2013-17 with the government funding.

The meeting on June 25 was attended by Mr. Siraj Hussain, Secretary, FPI, Mr. U. Venkateswarlu, Joint Secretary FPI, Mr. Jagdish Holkar, Chairman IGPB and a few select representatives of the All Indian Wine Producers Association (AIWPA) who had come from Maharashtra for the meeting.

Subhash Arora

Tags: Indian Grape Processing Board, Agriculture and Food Processing Industry, IGPB, FSSAI, WineNet, Maharashtra, Karnataka


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