In order to provide more clarity to grape shipments headed to the European Union, Indian farmers are using a unique barcode tracking software solution.
Grape farmers in the Indian state of Maharashtra, in conjunction with the region's annual grape harvesting season, have begun using a new data collection method designed to make it easier for problem growing regions to be located and isolated. The Times of India reported that Maharashtra's Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority recently set up a system called Grapenet, through which farmers are assigned a unique barcode for every plot of land with grapes.
"A farmer has to divide his farm into particular size called plot and it has to be registered with Grapenet, if the farmer wants to export his grapes," a senior officer from the state horticulture department said to the Times of India. "A farmer, thus can register many plots for export purpose and every plot gets a unique barcode, which is registered on the farmer's information on the Grapenet. This system is useful, as if an exported bunch of grape develops any problem, such as rotting, suspicious odour or unconventional change in the colour - the bar-code helps to trace back to the farm and farmer."
The Importance of Tracking Produce Shipments
The new data gathering system should go a long way toward ensuring the highest profit margins for Maharashtra grape farmers. While the region's agriculture industry sends produce around the world, the Times of India reported in March of last year that the highest returns come from European Union-based shipments. However, compliance issues can shut down access to this vital marketplace, making barcode tracking softwarevital.
"In 2010, some retail companies from [the] European Union rejected grape containers from Maharashtra, claiming higher than the prescribed usage of plant growth regulator or growth hormones," Pandurang Watharkar, director of processing and planning for Maharashtra's department of agriculture, said to the news source last year. "The losses were so heavy that many farmers stayed away from [exporting] to [the] EU, despite it being the most lucrative market. Farmers instead concentrated on west Asian (Gulf) market and some preferred selling their produce in the domestic market to cut losses."
Within the first week of this year's grape harvest, Maharashtra farmers shipped about 121 tons of grapes to the EU. The news source reported that the state sent more than 8,300 tons to EU nations during the 2012 growing season, with peak output coming in 2009, when Maharashtra exported close to 37,000 tons of grapes. Considering that many of the state's farmers do not achieve profitability until after shipment, the amount of produce accepted by the EU dramatically affects the ability of growers to continue plantings.