The Maharashtra state government, along with APEDA, plans to set up over 18 clusters in the state for export of chemical-residue-free vegetables and fruits. The clusters will also ensure that the agriculture products meet the phytosanitary norms of developed countries.
Phytosanitary measures are for the control of plant diseases and pathogens. Without residue-free and phytosanitary certifications, Customs clearance at foreign ports is not possible.
Export Adviser to the Maharashtra Government Govind Hande told BusinessLine that Maharashtra accounted for 65 per cent of the country’s fruit and 55 per cent of vegetable exports. Last year 250,000 tonnes of grapes, worth about ₹23 bln (€300,000), about 50,000 tonnes of mangoes (₹4.06 bln /€52.8 mln) and 67,000 tonnes of pomegranates (₹6.88 bln /€89.4 mln) were exported. The Maharashtra Government is keen to raise its exports, he said.
The State Government along with APEDA — Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority — will assess the agri export capability of every district, and help create infrastructure such as warehouses, distribution centres, packhouses and quality testing facilities, Hande said.
The EU, Japan, the US, Australia and many other advanced economies are wary of invasive species of insects and pathogens, which may come with agriculture products. They also have low tolerance to certain agrochemical residue. These countries even insist on the wood used for packaging being free of insects and chemicals.
In the last 10 years, several infrastructure facilities have been created including radiation and hot water treatment for mangoes and onions. The State also has 15 labs, which can certify the absence of farm chemical residues. Of the total packhouse in the country, 80 per cent are in Maharashtra. The idea is to further increase the number of such infrastructure facilities, Hande said. The District Collector would head the clusters. Preliminary work has already started in Sangli, Solapur and Nashik, he added.