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Editorial Articles

Issue no 8, 21-27 May 2022


India's Agri Exports Soaring High

Sandip Das

Proactive measures taken by the government have ensured that India's agricultural and allied sector product exports crossed a record US $ 50 billion in 2021-22, thus playing a key role in enhancing farmer income.

The Government of India's consistent and sustained thrust on boosting India's agricultural and allied sectors products exports have started to show results. Despite the unprecedented global pandemic- COVID-19, India has been able to meet rising global demand and is also emerging as a significant supplier of food and other agricultural products. India's exports of agricultural products, including marine and plantation products, for 2021- 22 rose to a record US $ 50 billion, which was an increase of more than 20% from the previous financial year. As per the provisional figures released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the export growth has been achieved mostly because of a surge in shipments of rice, marine products, sugar, buffalo meat, raw cotton and wheat.

"This growth in agricultural products exports has been achieved in spite of unprecedented logistical challenges in the form of high freight rates, container shortages etc," a statement by the Ministry of Commerce in April, 2022 had stated. It also stated that growth in agri-exports will go a long way in realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of improving farmers' income.

In 2021-22, highest ever exports have been achieved for commodities such as rice ($ 9.65 billion), wheat ($ 2.19 billion), sugar ($ 4.6 billion) and other cereals ($ 1.08 billion). Exports of wheat rose by more than 273% to $ 2.19 billion in 2021-22 in comparison to previous year. The Commerce Ministry statement also stated that increase in agri-exports of these products has benefitted farmers in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra etc.

"Meanwhile, India has also captured close to 50% of the global rice trade. In 2021-22, the export of marine products was at $7.71 billion which had economically benefited farmers in the coastal states of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Spices exports rose to $4 billion for the second year in a row in the last financial year, while despite facing tremendous supply side issues, coffee exports have crossed $ 1 billion for the first time, which has improved realisations for coffee growers in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The major market for India's agriculture products were the United States, China, Bangladesh, UAE, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Nepal, Iran and Malaysia.

Officials from the Commerce Ministry have attributed the sharp rise in agri - exports to sustained efforts on the part of the Department of Commerce and its various export promotion agencies like Agricultural and Process Food Products Exports Development Authority (APEDA), Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Coffee Board and various commodity boards.

Besides, the Commerce Minis-try also engaged with state governments and district administrations for promoting agriculture exports. The agricultural commodities have been exported from clusters like Varanasi (fresh vegetables, mangoes), Anantapur (banana), Nagpur (orange), Lucknow (mango), Theni (banana), Solapur (pomegranate), Krishna & Chittoor (mango) etc.

"During Covid-19 pandemic, while many countries were stockpiling their rice, wheat and other cereals, we took a proactive role in organising logistics and developing value chains which has given a boost to cereal exports," M Angamuthu, Chairman, APEDA said.

After October 2020, there has been a sharp spike in global agri-commodity prices, with the lifting of Covid-induced lockdowns and also the aftereffects of the massive financial infusion in the post pandemic phase.

According to Commerce Ministry officials, the focus of the government policies has been to provide the requisite support to export promotion bodies and the farmers so as to enable them to increase exports of agricultural products from the country. Several measures have been initiated in the last eight years for boosting India's agricultural and allied food products exports basket.

Some of the measures initiated include:

Agriculture Export Policy- To promote agricultural exports, the Government has introduced a comprehensive Agriculture Export Policy (AEP) in 2018 aimed at harnessing export potential of Indian agriculture, through suitable policy instruments, to make India a global power in agriculture, and raise farmers income.

Key objectives of the AEP:

·         To diversify our export basket, destinations and boost high value- and value-added agricultural exports, including focus on perishables.

·         To promote novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and nontraditional Agri products exports.

·         To provide an institutional mechanism for pursuing market access, tackling barriers and dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary issues.

·         To strive to double India's share in world agri-exports by integrating with global value chains.

·         Enable farmers to benefit from export opportunities in overseas markets.


So far 21 states - Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Manipur, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, M.P., Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh and two Union Territories -- Ladakh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands have finalized their specific exports policy.


The government has identified 46 unique product district clusters for export promotion while 29 cluster level committees have been formed for promotion of agri exports. APEDA has formed Export Promotion Forums under its Chairmanship and having representatives of Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, State Govern-ments, National Referral Laboratories and ten leading exporters of Grapes, Onions, Mango, Banana, Pomegranate, Flori-culture, Rice, Dairy Products and Nutri cereals.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has also initiated several schemes to promote exports such as Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme, Market Access Initiatives Scheme, Merchandise Exports from India Scheme etc. In addition, assistance to the exporters of agricultural products is also being provided under the Export Promotion Schemes of APEDA, Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Tobacco Board, Tea Board, Coffee Board, Rubber Board and Spices Board. Besides, for boosting honey exports, India has made Nuclear Magnetic Resonance testing mandatory for honey exported to the USA.


Central Sector Scheme for providing Transport and Marketing Assistance

A new Central Sector Scheme - Transport and Marketing Assistance for Specified Agriculture Products - for providing assistance for the international component of freight, to mitigate the freight disadvantage for the export of agriculture products, and marketing of agricultural products has been brought about. A Farmer Connect Portal has been set up for providing a platform for farmers, Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and cooperatives to interact with exporters.


APEDA in collaboration with other stakeholder in the value chain has organised BuyerSeller Meets (BSMs) in the clusters to provide export market linkages. Regular interactions, through videoconferences, have been held with the Indian Missions abroad to assess and exploit export opportunities. Besides that, country specific BSMs, through Indian Missions, have also been organized. Common Digital Platform for Certificate of Origin has been launched to facilitate trade and exports.


Thirteen dedicated 'AgriCells' in Indian embassies Vietnam, USA, Bangladesh, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Japan and Argentina were created to provide inputs on real time for boosting exports.


APEDA, which has a share of more than 50% in India's agricultural and processed food products exports, initiated registration of pack-houses for horticulture products to meet the quality requirements of the international market. Registration of export units for peanut shelling and grading and processing units, for instance, is to ensure quality adherence for the European Union and non-EU countries.


The export promotion body has taken several initiatives to promote Geographical Identification (GI)-registered agricultural and processed food products in India by organising virtual buyer-seller meets with the major importing countries across the world. In order to ensure seamless quality certification of products to be exported, the export promotion body has recognised 220 labs across India to provide services of testing a wide range of products and exporters.


With these series of measures initiated, India's agricultural and allied food products are likely to continue to surge in coming years bringing in benefits to the farmers. This surge in exports has been achieved even while India's agricultural and allied sectors, on which more than half of the country's population depends for their livelihood, continue to provide food security to crores of people in the country.


(Author is a senior writer and journalist. He can be reached at writerfoodsd@gmail.com)


Views expressed are personal.