In a significant boost to the prospects of fresh fruit exports, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), operating under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has facilitated the export of the first trial shipment of fresh bananas to the Netherlands, by InI Farms, via a sea route.
The first export consignment of one container of bananas to the Netherlands was flagged off on 9 November 2023 by APEDA Chairman Shri Abhishek Dev from Baramati, Maharashtra.
For the trial shipment of bananas, APEDA has enlisted the support of ICAR-Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture (CISH), Lucknow for technical assistance while InI Farms has partnered with Del Monte for marketing and distribution in Europe, and Maersk for logistics.
The trial shipment of bananas to Europe was carried out by the APEDA-registered 'InI Farms,' a top exporter of fruits and vegetables from India and their produce being exported to over 35 countries worldwide. Over the past two years, the firm has made extensive efforts to enhance the quality and shelf life of bananas to meet the strict standards of the European market. As part of the Agrostar group InI Farms has also established a value chain for bananas by working directly with farmers.
During the event, the APEDA Chairman mentioned that the beginning of banana exports to the Netherlands would lead to higher prices and increased income for farmers. He also highlighted that this trial shipment would open up the significant export potential of the European market for Indian bananas.
The long-distance market and high costs were obstacles to starting commercial operations, and the export of the first trial shipment of bananas will help build capacities among Indian exporters and European Union (EU) importers by ensuring the export of quality fruits.
Despite being the world's largest banana producer, India's export share is currently just one percent in the global market, even though the country accounts for 26.45 percent of the world's banana production at 35.36 Million Metric Ton. In the fiscal year 2022-23, India exported bananas worth USD 176 million, equivalent to 0.36 MMT.
With the first trial shipment to the European market, it is estimated that India may be able to export bananas worth more than USD one billion in the next five years. This could also lead to an increase in the income of more than 25,000 farmers and create rural livelihoods directly for over 10,000 people in the supply chain and indirectly provide employment for over 50,000 people on farms.
The major export destinations for Indian bananas include Iran, Iraq, UAE, Oman, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Afghanistan, and the Maldives. Additionally, there are abundant export opportunities in countries such as the USA, Russia, Japan, Germany, China, the Netherlands, the UK, and France.
As India has been playing a larger role in banana trade with the Middle East for the last 15 years, it is estimated that exports will exceed USD 303 million in the fiscal year 2024.
Banana is a major horticultural crop grown in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh is the largest banana-producing state, followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh. These five states collectively contribute around 67 percent to India's banana production in the fiscal year 2022-23.
Other states that also produce bananas include Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Mizoram, and Tripura.
The increase in the export of agricultural and processed food products is a result of various initiatives undertaken by APEDA to promote agricultural and processed food product exports, such as organizing B2B exhibitions in different countries and exploring new potential markets through product-specific and general marketing campaigns with the active involvement of Indian Embassies with a special focus on natural, organic, and Geographical Indication (GI) tagged agro-products.
APEDA is making continuous efforts in promoting exports of fresh fruits and vegetables and has initiated to develop sea protocols for other fruits which have significant export potential.