The disruption in the aviation sector following the outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a major blow to exports of perishables from India, mainly fresh fruits, vegetables and floriculture products. Exporters see a further impact on shipments in the days ahead with the ban on all incoming flights into the country from March 22.
Sources at the Commerce Ministry said shipments are down by about a fourth in volume in recent months mainly due to cancellations of flight services to various destinations.
“Orders are there, but the exporters are unable to ship because very few flights are operating. Also there in no adequate cargo space available on passenger flights and wherever space is available, the charges have been hiked,” a source said, adding that a further impact would be felt from March 22.
APEDA’s latest figures reveal that exports of fresh vegetables were 38 per cent lower in April-January 2019-20 at 1.65 mln tonnes as against 2.67 mln tonnes in the corresponding period last year.
In value terms, fresh vegetable exports were 21 per cent lower at $547 million ($691 million). However, fresh fruit exports were up marginally at 541,000 tonnes (539,000 tonnes). But in value terms, the fresh fruit shipments were 7 per cent lower at $462 million ($496 million). Floriculture exports were down 5 per cent at $63 million for the period.
The air shipment of mangoes, banana, fresh vegetables and flowers from airports such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, among others, has been impacted by coronavirus-related developments over the past few weeks. “There is a clampdown on sectors for fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers,” an official with a large cargo and logistic company in Mumbai told thehindubusinessline.com.