India’s March-June farm exports up 23.24% despite corona woes

19 Aug 2020


Exports of agricultural commodities from the country increased by 23.24 per cent during March-June 2020 compared with the corresponding period in 2019, ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare stated in a release.

The agriculture ministry has prepared a comprehensive action plan towards promotion of agri trade - a two-fold approach that focuses on boosting exports with emphasis on value addition and action plan for import substitution.
The ministry said even during the difficult time of pandemic lockdown, India took care to not to disturb the world food supply chain and continued to export. The exports of agri commodities during March 2020 to June 2020 stood at Rs25,552.7 crore against Rs20,734.8 crore during the same period in 2019, showing a sharp increase of 23.24 per cent, the ministry release pointed out.
As per WTO’s Trade Statistics, share of India’s agricultural exports and imports in the world agriculture trade in 2017 was 2.27 per cent and 1.90 per cent, respectively. 
Agricultural product exports as a percentage of India’s agricultural GDP has increased from 9.4 per cent in 2017-18 to 9.9 per cent in 2018-19. On the other hand, agricultural imports as a percentage of India’s agricultural GDP has declined from 5.7 per cent to 4.9 per cent, indicating lower dependence on imported agricultural products.
While India’s agri export has increased from about Rs149 crore in 1950-51 to the level of Rs2.53 lakh crore in 2019-20, India, one of the top producers of agricultural products, does not figure among top exporters of agricultural produce. 
India, the second largest wheat producer in the world, ranks 34th in exports. Similarly, the country with the third-largest production of vegetables ranks only 14th in exports. India, the second largest producer of fruits in the world, ranks 23rd in exports. To reach the ranks of top exporting nations in agriculture, commensurate with production, there is a clear and categorical need to take proactive interventions.
Self-reliant agriculture is critical for the goal of an Atmanirbhar Bharat. For this, agricultural export is extremely important as besides earning precious foreign exchange for the country, the exports help farmers / producers / exporters to take advantage of wider international market and increase their income. Exports have also resulted in increased production in agriculture sector by increasing area coverage and productivity
The Department of Agricultural Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare has prepared a comprehensive action plan towards promotion of agri trade. The two-fold approach addresses boosting agri export with emphasis on value addition and focussed action plan for import substitution. The interventions so identified have been converted into a timed action plan.
The export strategy focuses on export promotion of fast evolving niche markets of wellness food/ health conscious food/nutraceuticals, brand development and campaigns to help penetrate into new foreign markets and add new products that automatically translates into higher value realisation.
Gulf countries have been identified as focus destination to increase the market share. The Gulf countries offer a strong market for India though at present it caters to only 10-12 per cent share of their total imports. A product market matrix has been made containing list of products of strength which could be expanded in new geographies and list of known markets which can be introduced with newer products.
India on an average exports 8.23 lakh tonnes of fruits valued at Rs5,638 crore and 31.92 lakh tonnes of vegetables worth Rs5,679 crores annually. Grapes occupy premier position in fresh fruit exports, followed by mango, pomegranate, banana, and oranges. 
The fresh vegetable export basket includes onions, mixed vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes, and green chilly. However, world trade in fruits and vegetables is worth $208 billion of which India’s share is miniscule. There is huge potential to increase export in fruits and vegetables. As such, specific strategy for export promotion has also been evolved for fresh fruits and vegetables with specific emphasis on grapes, mango, pomegranate, onion, potato and cucumber-gherkin, the ministry pointed out.
The ministry also proposes to strengthen existing agri clusters and develop more product clusters to fill the gap of bulk quantity and quality of supplies. A time bound action plan has also been prepared for import substitution with particular focus upon edible oils, cashew, fruits and spices thereby making India self-reliant.
Product specific Export Promotion Forums have been created for eight agri and allied products, viz, grapes, mango, banana, onion, rice, nutri-cereals, pomegranate and floriculture under the aegis of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).
Each Export Promotion Forum will have exporters of the related commodity as its members along with official members representing concerned ministries / departments of the central and state governments. Chairman APEDA shall be the chairman of each of these forums. The forums will meet at least once in every two months, to discuss/ make recommendations on issues pertaining to export of the respective commodity and invite experts etc to the meeting for interaction, as required.
The forums will constantly monitor and identify/anticipate developments in the external/internal situation pertaining to the production and export of their respective commodity and recommend /intervene for taking the necessary policy/ administrative measures. 
The recommendations of the forum will be placed in the product committee / Authority of APED

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