NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said the previous government in Maharashtra had taken a good decision to sell wine in supermarkets leading in a bid to boost fruit-based wineries, but for some reasons it was not implemented. Pawar was speaking at a conference here on grapes organised by the Maharashtra Rajya Draksha Bagaitdar Sangh (MRDBS), an umbrella body of grape farmers. He also raised concern over farmer suicides in the state and said people need to come together to think and prevent it.
The previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state, of which the NCP was a constituent, had in January this year allowed the sale of wine in supermarkets and walk-in stores across the state. A minister had then said the decision was taken to give a boost to fruit-based wineries which provide additional income to farmers.
Later, a social worker had filed public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court to challenge the decision, saying it would defeat the aim and objective of de-glamorising alcohol consumption and facilitate a person to buy alcohol on his own without any supervision.
The MVA government collapsed in June this year after a group of Shiv Sena legislators rebelled against the party leadership.
Pawar said, ”The previous government took a good decision to sell wine in supermarkets which may have proved beneficial to fruit-based wineries, but for some reasons it wasn’t implemented.” He said more than 35,000 farmers are part of the MRDBS. ”Thus, grape farming is now not limited to some particular areas of the state. Eight per cent of the grapes produced in India are exported, while 92 per cent of the produce in sold in the country’s markets. It is now important to pay attention to local markets. It will strengthen the markets, resulting in a higher financial turnover,” he said. Pawar also raised the issue of farmer suicides in Maharashtra. ”It is heart-wrenching. If the economy is not in order, farmers opt for ending their life. We should think together to prevent such a situation,” he said. Pawar also said he will hold talks with the state and central governments on how to promote the grapes market.
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