Government's New Wine Policy promoting the French variety, they say
The famed Bangalore Blue, the grape variety exclusively grown around Karnataka's capital, requires more attention, according to growers who have sought subsidy to cover production costs.
Bangalore Blue is being cultivated for over 150 years in Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural, Chickballapur and Kolar districts on around 4,500 hectares. Being a geographic-specific variety, the Horticulture Department has sought Geographical Indications (GI) tag for this indigenous variety.
Largely grown by small and medium farmers in the Nandi Valley, this variety belongs to the labrusca family. Some 15,000 farmers are dependent on this crop.
Cup of woe
Now these farmers are up in arms against the Wine Policy of Karnataka, which they say is heavily loaded against them. “While the government gives subsidy to French variety of grapes under the Wine Policy, it has ignored our own local variety. Such a subsidy should also be extended to Bangalore Blue,” Narayanaswamy N., director, Karnataka State Grape Growers Association, told presspersons on Wednesday.
Seeking changes in the policy to provide a platform for wines made from Bangalore Blue, he said: “We are seeking a subsidy of Rs. 4 to Rs. 6 per kg. This would help farmers financially.” According to him if the farm gate price of Bangalore Blue ranged from Rs. 5 to Rs. 7 a kg, the French varieties fetched farmers between Rs. 40 and Rs. 60 a kg.
The current policy, Mr. Narayanaswamy said, was unjust to the growers by encouraging only the French variety.
To encourage grape cultivation and wine production in the State, the association has urged the Government to extend subsidies to the Bangalore Blue through NABARD and All India Grape Processing Board.
Besides, wines made from Bangalore Blue should be permitted to be sold across the country and also in taverns and wine boutiques in Bangalore, it said.