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Grapes set to sweeten India-US ties

After a tumultuous 2013, followed by an improvement in ties last year, this year is likely to see the Indo-US relationship being sweetened by grapes. From March, India is likely to export the fruit to the US market.

Since the US allowed the import of mangoes from India in 2008, aggressive efforts have been made to export more fruits such as grapes, pomegranates and lychees into the American market.

It seems to begin with, the US might allow the import of grapes. This might be announced when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama meet here at the end of this month.

“India had sought market access for the export of grapes in March 2008. It will be a big boost, as it will add another 30,000-40,000 tonnes to our total grapes export. This will multiply in the years to come, as the demand is huge. It will also give a bigger premium to our farmers and exporters,” a senior commerce department official told Business Standard.

He added India had taken all necessary sanitary and phytosanitary measures to ensure the quality of grapes matched that sought by American authorities. Currently, India exports grapes to the European Union, the biggest market, followed by Russia and the UAE.

It is learnt the commerce ministry, through the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, has already provided the requisite information relating to pest-risk analysis to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture.

The APHIS has also sought information on the economic losses caused by identified pests in grapes, data the commerce department is compiling. The US has, however, said it would start importing grapes from India by finalising the PRA before the data is collated.

In 2013-14, India exported 192,000 tonnes of fresh grapes, valued at $ 280 million, compared with 172,000 tonnes ($ 233.60 million) in 2012-13. Of the exports, about 80 per cent is from Maharashtra.

Export of grapes to the US has been discussed at various high-level visits and meetings between officials of both sides. Recently, the matter was discussed at a meeting between US commerce secretary Penny Pritzker and commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The government has taken various steps to promote the export of agro products such as incentives under various schemes of commodity boards and export promotion councils.

APEDA has also introduced various schemes for registration of pack-houses and processing units for fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure these products meet the required standards in international markets. To boost agro exports, it has also implemented various steps to extend financial assistance to exporters registered with it.

IN GOOD TASTE

  • The first consignment of grapes from India is expected to be shipped to the US in March; India already exports mangoes to that country
     
  • All pest-risk analyses on grapes demanded by the US have been carried out
     
  • Currently, EU, Russia and the UAE are the biggest markets for Indian grapes
     
  • Total grape exports from India in 2013-14 stood at 192,000 tonnes, valued at $ 279.50 million

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