Nashik: One of the most delicious and beautiful fruits, the pomegranate has become affordable due to a bumper harvest and stoppage of European markets. Retail prices have dropped to Rs 40 per kg in producing areas like Solapur, Nashik, Sangli and other regions even as all India growers harvested around 16,00,000 tons this season.
Maharashtra with 130,000 hectares, is the largest producer of pomegranates while the all India acreage is 1,80,000 hectares.
Prabhakar Chandane, president, Pomegranate Grower Association of India said that, there was excellent production in Solapur which has 35,000 hectares followed by Nashik with 25,000 hectares. “The general yield is between 10 to 15 tons per hectare. Arrivals of grapes, orange and mango too have reduced the demand for pomegranates,” he said.
Exporter Sheetal Chandane of Sangola Agro Pvt Ltd said that, 100 shipping containers of pomegranates were exported to Europe between December 2016 to March 2017.
“India faces stiff challenge in European markets due to heavy arrivals of pomegranates from Peru, Chili and South Africa and Indian exports have stopped to European markets. However, the biggest market is Bangladesh and the fruit goes by road,” he said. This year exports were sent to Europe by early March 2017 then dropped by late March 2017 due to heavy competition. Exports were good to Middle East and other countries like Russia.
By the seventies, pomegranates were grown wild in Himachal Pradesh and surrounding regions. Prabhakar Chandane started the first planned orchard in Sangola town of Solapur district in 1974. After his success, Chandane urged other farmers to take up pomegranate cultivation and the trend continues. Other producing states are Karnataka, Gujarat, MP and AP.
In Nashik – Malegaon, Kalwan, Satana and other tehsils bordering Khandesh have the largest number of orchards. There are 2 varieties of pomegranates grown in Maharashtra. Bhagwa variety is grown by 95 percent orchards followed by Ganesh variety by 5 percent orchards.