Indian exporters have reported a drop of 25 per cent in business revenues as transportation charges by air and sea have shot up drastically. They also fear that the worst is yet to come.
With cancellation of flights to Europe and Middle East due to 4 COVID-19, Mumbai fruit and vegetable exporters have reported this 25 per cent decline. Even where flights are still operational, the charges have gone up 250 per cent. Taking the sea route isn't a feasible option either, due to prohibitive costs.
"We supply mango, custard apple, papaya, lady's finger, drumstick, cluster bean, chilli, brinjal, bottle gourd to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Muscat, Dubai and Europe. Flight operations on these routes are either suspended or services drastically reduced. With a sharp drop in business, we are losing foreign currency," Sanjay Pansare, a trader and former director of Agriculture Produce Market Committee told mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com.
The exporters fear that in the coming days, travel restrictions would be even more stringent as every country tries to isolate itself from the rest of the world to arrest the spread of the virus. India is one of the biggest suppliers of fruits and vegetables to the Middle East.
Mango farmers affected
The Coronavirus scare has severely affected exports of the mangoes. With 40 per cent of mango crop being produced for export, lack of medium to transport the fresh fruit is likely to hit farmers hard. With the mango season just starting, the fruit is usually in great demand in the Gulf, as well as European countries and America. Out of the total production of mangoes in India, nearly 40 per cent is sent to foreign countries. However, due to the virus outbreak, traders are unable to send mangoes.
In the beginning of the season, the Agricultural produce market committee (APMC) receives 3,000 to 4,000 boxes daily. However, when the season is at the peak --which starts in 15 days- around 100,000 boxes arrive on the market every day. And if the export does restart by the peak season, it will severely affect farmers.