PUNE: Pomegranate prices have dropped to almost half of the previous year’s levels in Maharashtra, the top producer and exporter of the fruit that is an excellent source of dietary fibre and vitamins.Higher supplies, a decline in exports and inferior quality because of an erratic climate have led to the price drop, say growers. Pomegranate acreage has increased substantially in Maharashtra as the fruit commanded premium prices in domestic as well as export markets.
According to the All India Pomegranate Growers’ Association, pomegranate is planted on about 40,000 hectares in the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of the state, compared with 30,000 two-three years ago.
The best-quality fruit used to come from the drought-prone ar eas of Maharashtra, like Atpadi and Jat talukas of Sangli district and Sangola in Solapur district and pockets in Nashik district.

Farmers are getting a maximum Rs 50-60 a kilogram now compared with Rs 80-90 last year. In the retail markets of Maharashtra, big size pomegranates are selling for Rs 100 a kg from Rs 180 as recently as a few weeks ago.

“New plantations have increased supplies in the market. Export demand is also less,” said Prabhakar Chandane, president of the growers’ association.

Exports to Russia have declined this year, said exporters. Many of them complained that they didn’t receive payments for last year’s shipments. Exports to Europe, the main destination for Indian pomegranates, are also marginal as the quality of the fruits isn’t good in this season.

December-April is the peak season for exports of Indian pomegranates to the European Union.