3. Fruits and Vegetables Sector
The immense diversity in agro-climatic conditions across the different regions enables India to produce a large variety of fruits and vegetables that are generally grown under sub-tropical and temperate climatic conditions.
The value of fruits and vegetables production in 1992/93 was of the order of Rs. 20.94 crores accounting for 12.3 per cent of the value of output of all crops. India produced nearly 32 million tonne of fruits in 1993 which accounted for 8.6 per cent in world production of fruits.
The production of vegetables in 1993 is estimated at 71 million tonnes which formed 15 per cent of world production. The total area under vegetables cultivation is 6.2miikllion hectares which is about 3 per cent of the total area under cultivation.
The major fruits grown are banana, mango, citrus, guava, grapes, apple and pineapple which constituted nearly 80 per cent of the total fruit production in the country. Banana has the largest share of 31.7 per cent in total fruit production, followed by mango with 28 per cent.
Production of mango has remained almost stagnant during the decade 1983-93.
However, a few other fruits had registered very high rates of growth I production. The annual growth in production during 1983-93 was 9.6 per cent in the case of banana, 10.3 per cent for papaya, 9.4 per cent for grapes and 4.7 per cent in respect of citrus fruits.
The major fruit producing states are Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Gujarat. These eight states account for 70 per cent of the area under fruit cultivation and 78 per cent of the total fruit production.
The yield levels of most of the fruits are, however, relatively low as compared to those in other major fruit producing countries.
There exists considerable scope for improving yields and hence production levels of almost all fruits.
Although India is a very large producer of fruits, the per capita production is only about 100 gm per person per day. Further, about 25 to 30 per cent of the total production is lost due to spoilage at various post-harvest stages. In value terms, the post harvest wastage and losses per year are estimated at over Rs. 3000 crores. Because of these losses, the per capita availability of fruits is only of the order of 75 gm per person per day, which is just half of the requirements of a balanced diet.
Out of the total production of fruits and vegetables, nearly 76 per cent is consumed in fresh form, while wastage, and posses account for 20 to 22 per cent. Only 2 per cent of vegetable production and 4 per cent of fruit production are being processed. This is in sharp contrast to the extent of processing of fruits in several other developing countries such as Brazil (70 per cent), Malaysia (83 per cent), Philippines (78 per cent) and Thailand (30 per cent).
It is significant to note that the current installed capacity can process only 3 to 4 per cent of there total production of fruits and vegetables in the country. There were around 4100 to 4200 processing units licensed with an installed capacity of 12 lakh tonnes. The actual production in 1993 was only 5.6 lakhs tonnes implying a capacity utilization of less than 50per cent.
Being seasonal in nature, the units operate for less than 150 days in a year. There is significant processing, especially in thee cottage and households sector, for preservation and production of items like pickles, chutneys and syrups, accounting for 75 percent of the total units while the small scale sector has a share of 15 per cent and the large scale sector accounted for only 10 per cent of the total units.
The government has initiated several policy measures for encouraging exports of processed fruits and vegetables. As a result, exports of these products have increased from Rs. 122.5 crores in 1990/91 to Rs. 332.4 crores in 1993/94. Mango and mango based products accounted for Rs. 118 crores while exports of processed vegetables amounted to Rs. 160 crores.
Onion accounts for over 90 per cent of exports of fresh vegetables. India’s share in word exports of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables was quite insignificant being just 1 per cent.
The demand for processed fruits and vegetables comes from both the domestic and export markets. In the domestic market, a substantial share is contributed by defence, hotels and restaurants. Household consumption accounts for less than 50 per cent of the production. India’s exported are constrained by several factors such as poor quality, lack of standardization and unattractive packaging.
It is evident that there is considerable scope for expansion of processing of fruits and vegetables. Development of processing industry on modern, scientific lines would produce a variety of benefits.
Firstly, it will significantly reduce the magnitude of post harvest wastage and losses. Secondly, it would generate employment opportunities on a significant scale both directly in processing activities and indirectly in trade and transport activities.
Thirdly, it will also encourage more intensive cultivation of fruits and vegetables over larger areas. It is difficult to estimate the total gains from expansion and modernization of fruit and vegetable processing activities.
But there are several major constraints in accomplishing this task.
These constraints can be broadly grouped into two categories viz., (i) constraints faced by the farmers and growers, and (ii) constraints faced by the industry –including both who are involved with marketing of fresh fruits and vegetables and the processors.