BENGALURU: Karnataka farmers are doing all the hard work, but it is Maharashtra that is boosting its brand and taking all the credit. This, only because Karnataka lacks adequate facilities to store raisins that are best in the country. Farmers from the grape belt of Vijayapura are forced to take their produce across the border causing a loss of some serious revenue and branding for Karnataka. Karnataka is the second-largest grape-growing state in the country after Maharashtra, while over 70 per cent of growers are from Vijayapura district.
Cultivated in over 20,000 hectares, the annual grape production is around 5 lakh tonnes. Of this, 4 lakh tonnes are dried to make raisins, while the remaining is used to make wines. MS Rudregowda, president, Vijayapura Grape Growers’ Association, said four lakh tonnes of grapes yield one lakh tonne of raisins.
But Karnataka does not have the facility to store such large quantities. “Private and governmentowned storage facilities can hold up to 25,000 kg. The remaining goes to Maharashtra, which has better facilities and the biggest market in the country. With branding by Maharashtra, raisins from Karnataka are exported to the Middle East, Singapore and other countries,” he said.
Raisins from the state generate revenue of Rs 2,000 crore, of which over Rs 100 crore is paid as GST to Maharashtra. The neighbouring state also gains by way of APMC cess. The Association is now demanding Rs 400 crore to build storage facilities. Horticulture Department sources said there is a proposal to give the funds to the Farmers Produce Organisation or farmer cooperatives.
But local farmers are opposing any publicprivate partnership. In the first phase, the government is planning to set up a facility to hold 50,000 kg of raisins at Vijayapura, while Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai too has shown interest. Even if the project is started now, it will take over two years to complete, sources said. Horticulture Minister Munirathna said his department too is proposing to set up a cold storage facility in Vijayapura. “I have asked officials to get details of raisins and grapes, the varieties and harvesting seasons. Once I get the details, we will discuss and take action.”