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Grapes turn sour for vineyard owners in Tamil Nadu

Coimbatore, June 5 (ANI): Muscat grapes happen to be the most preferred source for quality wines. This variety is well known for its aroma and the name is derived from the word musk for its pleasing fragrance.

In India, Muscat grapes are grown only in the region of Coimbatore and Cumbam in Tamil Nadu.

In the past, owners of vineyards growing these grapes had reaped it rich since there had been a good demand from wineries and breweries, which incidentally are located outside Tamil Nadu.

However, of late, there has been sharp decline in the production of Muscat grapes despite the fact that these could be grown throughout the year unlike other varieties, which are seasonal.

Earlier the production of Muscat grapes in Tamil Nadu was over 1,20,000 tonnes from 8000 acres of land used as vineyards by 1500 farmers.

The number of grape growers in the belt has come down from 220 to 120. Since 2002, the land in which the grapes are cultivated has also declined. From about 1,500 acres two years ago it has declined to 600 acres.

The marginal farmers are no longer willing to gamble. Most of them have stopped production while the others who are still growing grapes have reduced their area of cultivation of grapes.

The grape growers point out that the production cost of one kilogram of grapes is rupees 15 but the rates at which these are sold in the market are at rupees 10.

The loss of five rupees is very pricey for the farmers, as they have to hire laborers from outside. The men are paid rupees per day while the women laborers are paid rupees 80-90 per day.

“For a yield of one kilogram of Muscat grapes we have to spend around rupees 15 whereas in the market, these fruits fetch just rupees 10. Thus a farmer is forced to bear the loss of rupees five on each kilogram in the vineyard itself,” lamented Vijayan, President, Grape Growers Association, Coimbatore.

The rates of fertilisers and other vineyard inputs including assorted accessories have skyrocketed in the recent years. These aspects have further discouraged farmers from taking up growing Muscat grapes.

” The rates of grapes keep fluctuating every season. Our condition is very bad. Moreover the prices of labourers and fertilisers are increasing. We sell one kilogram of grapes for 10 rupees only. We are in deep waters,” said Valliammal, a grape grower.

The grape growers have urged upon the government to setup cold storage facilities since grapes are perishable.

They have also suggested a winery and fruits processing units in the region so that the name and fame of Muscat grapes.

Muscat grapes are mainly used in brewing wines of different ranges. These grapes are also blended with various other grape varieties to enrich complexity, colour and flavour in the wine. (ANI)

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