Heavy rain in the wake of tropical storm Ockhi has severely impacted Indian grape production, reports The Indian Express.
Growers in Maharashtra, the largest grape-producing region in the country, told the paper that unseasonable rain on Tuesday (5 December) caused fruit damage to an already reduced crop.
Harvesting is due to begin in Maharashtra towards the end of next week (mid-December), with the peak arrivals in February to March. But producers warn of lower volumes due to inclement weather earlier this year and this latest deluge.
“The unseasonal rain [this week] caused the skin of grapes to split. The rain damaged the fruit and it will be hard to find takers for them,” Zameer Shaikh, a grape farmer from Yevla in Nashik district, told The Indian Express.
Maharashtra produces almost 80 per cent of India’s grape crop, according to the report. Within the state, Nashik, Sangli, Solapur, Pune, Ahmednagar, Satara and Osmanabad are the major growing districts, it said.
Nashik, which produces 90 per cent of the grape exports from Maharashtra, received 125.5 mm of rain on Tuesday in the wake of tropical storm Ockhi – which left a trail of destruction in Sri Lanka, Lakshadweep, South India and the Maldives between 29 November and 6 December.
“The weather has been unstable this year. The late withdrawal of monsoon had earlier affected crops in the region with productivity dipping. The first phase of crop that enters the market was almost ready but rains on Tuesday spoiled matters,” Keshav Kakad, who owns a grape farm in Nashik district, told the paper.
Kakad said that before the rains, farmers were selling their produce to traders at INR50-70 per kg (US$0.7-1) for the domestic market and INR70-90 per kg (US$1-1.4) for the international market. However, after Tuesday’s rains, Kakad said farmers will suffer.
“I am not sure whether traders will be willing to buy damaged crop. It will create a shortage in the market, which will hit farmers and also ensure that buyers end up paying more for the fruit,” Kakad is reported to have said.