For the first time, West Asia has emerged as a prospective major market for Indian oranges as growers began to treat the citrus fruit with a wax coating, officials of the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB) said.
Till now, India exports oranges to Bangladesh only. Last week, the first consignment of 15.5 tonne of oranges from Amravati were sent via the sea route to Dubai from the Vashi facility of MSAMB.
A total of 1,500 crates were loaded in the refrigerated container from Vanguard Health Care (VHT) facility.
According to the ministry of commerce, production of the Nagpur mandarin fruit crop in central and western part of India is increasing every year. Mrig crop (monsoon blossom), which matures from February to March, has great potential for export since arrivals of the fruit in international market decrease during this period.
Sunil Pawar, MD, MSAMB, said the wax coating or layer of wax on the fruit not only lends it a gloss but also increases its shelf life by another month. Since respiration of the fruit stops due to the coating, the weight loss of the fruit is also prevented, he said. Although Indian oranges are known for their flavour, these often rot in transit due to loose jacket and exporters therefore often end up losing.
Orange is an major horticultural crop in Wardha, Nagpur, Amravati and other districts of the Vidarbha region of the state. The citrus fruit is exported to Bangladesh with nearly 100-200 tonne by road.
The short shelf life of the fruit has affected its exports. A pilot conducted last year, however, led to an interest from the West Asia and MSAMB decided to take special efforts to promote exports.
The marketing board began orange-waxing as part of its export promotion and the treatment was done at the packing house of MSAMB in Navi Mumbai. Oranges were transported in open crates, weighing 10 tonne each, in refrigerated vans. At the Navi Mumbai facility,it was graded, washed, waxed and sent in reefer containers to Dubai. Pawar said the board expected around 40 tonne of exports from its facility.
Sudhir Thakre, president, MahaOrange, said so far Indian oranges were only sent to Bangladesh but the decision of the government to set up clusters for encouraging exports was slowly reaching farmers and for the first time, a list of orchard owners with fruit for export have been registered under OrangeNet, as on the lines of GrapeNet by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda).
MahaOrange plays the role of a facilitator. With some efforts, at least 11 projects for grading and sorting and packing have come up in Vidarbha, he said. Thakre said fruit growers expect to export around 30 tonne to Qatar, Bahrain and Dubai.
For the implementation of the Agriculture Export Policy, Nagpur district is being developed as a cluster for nagpur orange by Apeda.
Around 150 farmers from Nagpur district, farmer producers companies and seven exporters attended a meet-cum-training programme for buyers and sellers. Training was held during December at Vanamati, Nagpur. The main focus of the training programme was to increase the exports of Nagpur orange to West Asia countries.