New Delhi, August 7:

Indian bananas, especially the indigenously developed varieties, have a huge potential in the Gulf countries thanks to the proximity to that market and a large pool of Indian diaspora there, experts here said.

“India is the largest producer and consumer of banana, but we must also enhance our export capacity. In this direction, the Gulf countries should be our first target,” said Father Mathews, chairman of Banana Producers Co (Bancom). “These countries are very near to ours. So it will be less expensive for us to transport the fruit to that market. More so, the large Indian community there will help us achieve our goal,” Matthews said.

India produces over 15 million ton-nes of bananas per year and accounts for 19 per cent of the global output. But the large domestic consumption lea-ves the country with less than one percent share in world exports. “We import bananas from the Philippines. But it takes 25 days to reach us,” said Zulfiker, a Dubai-based importer.