Julian M Bevis keeps binoculars at his eleventh floor office in Worli and during summer, tries to spot his company’s ships sailing into the Nhava Sheva docks. The senior director of Maersk India did this in Singapore too and has kept up with the hobby in Mumbai for the last 11 years.
Bevis manages to look out for only five months a year. “In the winter months it is smoggy and you cannot make out the channel or the cranes,” Bevis says. However, Bevis and his company have managed to look far in other areas. And they have found Indian bananas.
Bevis and his company are selling the idea of banana exports from India. “The small bananas are wonderful. I have lived in many places in the world and I am sure these can find a global market somewhere.”
India produces almost 17 million tonne of bananas and is the largest producer in the world. However, India does not export any. The largest exporter is Ecuador, which produces 5.9 million tonnes and exports 4.7 million tonnes.
In fact only 15 per cent of global banana crops are traded. The second largest producer Brazil (6.7 million tonnes) and the third largest China (6.4 million tonnes) also do not export any.
Bevis told Hindustan Times in an interview: “Indian grapes have found a niche in the world and they come in February-March when none of the other major grape exporting countries are exporting making global super markets opt for Indian grapes on their shelves.”
Bevis said that Maersk is already talking to Indian banana producers about exporting the fruit in refrigerated containers. “We are sharing our knowledge on the subject with the producers. We are talking about the kinds of temperatures that will be needed to keep the fruit fresh and how many days it can take to export,” he added.
Bevis has lived in India for 11 years and feels that Indian bananas are as good as any in the world. “The small ones are fantastic. They will be a hit somewhere. It could be the middle east or some other market,” he said.
Maersk India is an arm of The Netherlands-based group AP Moller-Maersk which handles around 2 lakh containers all over the world. Of these around 1012 per cent are the reefer containers.