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Special Content

Issue no 29, 16-22 October 2021

Exports Of Agricultural Products Show Impressive Growth

                                                                                                                                                 Sandip Das

The challenges posed by the COVID19 pandemic resulted in the disruption of supply chains of various commodities across the globe. Despite this, India's export of agricultural and processed food, including cereals, meat, dairy and poultry products, marine products, and spices, registered a significant increase in the first five months of the current financial year (April-August, 2021-22). The Agriculture Export Policy unveiled in 2018, which entailed state-specific policy implementation through a cluster-based approach, resulted in the upswing in the export of India's agricultural products.

From April 2020, when the COVID19 pandemic started to spread in India, the farming activities were adversely impacted because of supply chain disruptions caused by restrictions on movement to contain the spread of the virus. There were disruptions in the movement of farm inputs, including farm machinery and agricultural labor. However, the prudent policy adopted by the government keeping most of the agricultural activities outside the purview of lockdown measures led to bumper foodgrain and horticultural crops production.

According to the Economic Survey (2020-21), the agriculture and allied sectors was the sole bright spot amid the slide in performance of other sectors, clocking a growth rate of 3.4% at constant prices during 2020-21. Against all adversities, continuous supply of agricultural commodities, especially staples like rice, wheat, pulses, and vegetables, has been maintained, thereby enabling food security. While most countries were stockpiling agricultural products for emergency use amid COVIDinduced uncertainty, India's exports of agricultural food products continued uninterrupted. The exports of agriculture and allied products, including marine and plantation products, rose by more than 17% during 2020-21 to USD 41.25 billion compared to the previous fiscal. A significant chunk of India's agricultural products exports was to the United States, China, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Nepal, Iran, and Malaysia.

The growth trend in agricultural and processed food products exports continues in the current fiscal with a hike of 21.8% from April to August of 2021-22 compared to the corresponding period of 2020-21. The other products categories - marine products, spices, tea, coffee, and tobacco also witnessed a significant spike in exports during April-August (2021-22).

According to the Quick Estimates released by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCI & S), the overall export by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) witnessed 21.8% growth in terms of USD during April-August 2021 over the same period of the previous year. The overall export of APEDA products increased from USD 6485 million in AprilAugust 2020 to USD 7902 million in April-August 2021. Marine products and spices exported rose to $ 3158 million (49.8%): Spices $ 1687 million (9%), coffee $ 377 million (19.78%), tea $ 296 million (5.17%), and tobacco $ 386 million (17.12%) during April - August (2021-22) compared to the same period last fiscal.

 This rise in exports was achieved notwithstanding COVID-19 restrictions. The significant spike in agri-exports is a testimony of the government's commitment to increase farmers' income by boosting exports of the country's agricultural and processed food products. The massive jump in exports of agricultural and processed food products during the first five months of the current fiscal is in continuation to growth in exports witnessed in the financial year 2020-21. According to WTO's trade map, with the total agri-exports of USD 37 billion in 2019, India is ranked at ninth position in the world ranking for agri-exports.

The rice export, which recorded a positive growth of 13.7%, increased from USD 3359 million in April-August 2020 to USD 3820 million in April-August 2021. As per Quick Estimates, while the exports of fresh fruits and vegetables registered a 6.1% growth in terms of USD, the export of processed food products like cereals and miscellaneous processed items reported a growth of 41.9%.

 In April-August 2020-21, India exported fresh fruits and vegetables worth USD 1013 million, which rose to USD 1075 million in April-August 2021-22. While India achieved a significant 142.1% increase in the export of cereals, the export of meat, dairy, and poultry products witnessed an increase of 31.1 percent in the first five months of the current fiscal (2021-22).

The export of other cereals increased from USD 157 million in April-August 2020 to USD 379 million in April-August 2021. The export of meat, dairy and poultry products increased from USD 1185 million in April-August 2020 to USD 1554 million in April August 2021. The cashew export rose from USD 144 million in April-August 2020 to USD 185 million in April-August 2021.

 The positive trend can be largely attributed to the various initiatives taken by the APEDA for the export promotion of agricultural and processed food products. The APEDA has been organizing B2B exhibitions in different countries, exploring new potential markets through product-specific and general marketing campaigns.

To promote the export of products having Indian GI (Geographical Indications), the APEDA has taken several other initiatives such as virtual Buyer-Seller Meets on agricultural and food products with the UAE, and similar meets on GI products, including handicrafts, with the USA. APEDA also continues to conduct virtual BuyerSeller Meets with potential importing countries to popularize major agricultural GI products.

 The Government unveiled the Agriculture Export Policy in December 2018 to harness the export potential of Indian agriculture through suitable policy instruments, make India a global power in agriculture, and raise farmers' income. The key objectives of the export policy were:

·         To diversify export baskets and destinations and boost high-value and value-added agricultural exports, including focusing on perishables.

·         To diversify export baskets and destinations and boost high-value and value-added agricultural exports, including focusing on perishables.

·         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.

ighteen states, including Maharashtra, Kerala, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Punjab, and Karnataka are in the process of or have finalized their specific action plan to implement the agri export policy. Forty-six unique product-district clusters have been identified for export promotion, and 29 cluster-level committees have been formed under the agriculture export policy. Around 106 products have been identified from 103 districts for harnessing export potentials. During 2020-21, the exports took place from several clusters for the first time. For instance, the export of fresh vegetables and mangoes from Varanasi and black rice from Chandauli has taken place for the first time, directly benefiting farmers of the area. Exports from other clusters -- oranges from Nagpur, bananas from Theni and Anantapur, mangoes from Lucknow, etc. took place in the last fiscal. With solid policy thrust, India's exports of agricultural and allied sector products are poised for sharp spikes in the current fiscal, which is expected to boost farmers' income.

The author is a Delhi-based senior journalist. He can be reached at sandipdas2005@gmail.com) Views expressed are personal