Junnar, 4th February 2024: Bangladesh has recently decided to nearly double the import duty on grapes. Last season, the import duty stood at Rs 66 per kg, but this year, it has surged to Rs 104 per kg. This abrupt hike has resulted in a noticeable decline in exporter traders’ interest in procuring grapes, leading to a direct impact on market prices.
The Jumbo grape, a popular export variety thriving in Junnar taluka of Pune district in Maharashtra, currently commands a market price ranging between Rs 50 and Rs 70 per kg, depending on its quality. However, this price fall has inflicted substantial losses of Rs 3 to 4 lakh per acre on grape growers in the taluka. The growers cultivating Jumbo grapes are now struggling to recover their capital costs at the prevailing market rates.
Junnar taluka boasts around four thousand acres dedicated to black and white grape cultivation, with approximately sixty percent allocated to the production of Jumbo, autumn seedless, king berry black, and large-sized grapes. Black grapes, particularly in demand in Bangladesh between January and February, have positioned Junnar taluka as a leading producer of Jumbo grapes in the state. Annually, about one and a half thousand tons of Jumbo and other black grapes find their way to Bangladesh from this taluka.
The surge in import duty has triggered a reduction in grape exports to Bangladesh by traders in the country, causing a direct impact on the market prices. With current market rates barely covering the capital costs, dissatisfaction among farmers regarding the central government’s export policy is palpable.
The situation for white grapes, including Thomson Seedless, Sonaka, and RK white grapes, is particularly dire. Traders are refraining from purchasing these varieties, resulting in white grape being sold at a meager 10 to 15 rupees per kilogram for wine making.
Typically, 22 tons of grapes are shipped in one container to Bangladesh. Last year, the import duty was Rs 66 per kg, translating to around Rs thirteen lakh for exporting a container. However, with the current import duty increase, exporters are now burdened with a payment of Rs. 26 lakh, causing a drastic 50 percent reduction in the market price of grapes.
While DJ Export Company continues its grape exports to other Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka, the recent rains in January have led to observed cracking in grapes harvested in September. The grapes are turning black during the cooling process, resulting in reduced purchases at present, as highlighted by Biju Joseph, the Manager of DJ Export Company.
The industry is now closely monitoring the evolving situation, with growers and traders alike grappling with the economic repercussions of the increased import duty on grape exports to Bangladesh.