India’s overall agricultural exports are expected to cross $300 billion mark by 2023 as factors like policy stabilization, institutional support, awareness about safety norms, implementation of strict regulations and infrastructure development will catapult the country into a major player in global agricultural market, the study projected.
“India agricultural exports (including tea, coffee and marine products) have grown almost eight times in the last decade i.e. from around $5 billion in 2003 to over $39 billion in 2013 thereby clocking a growth rate of over 21 per cent,” noted the ASSOCHAM study.
However the study pointed out that agricultural trade in India is currently challenged by a host of factors – inefficient economics of scale, high level of intermediation, wastages, inadequate and inappropriate storage, procurement and distribution infrastructure, poor food safety norms adherence as well as lack of consistency in supply and quality, cost competitiveness due to statutory changes and research for processable grades and trade barriers.
“There is a need to have long term sustainable policy which attracts more investments in agriculture sector and increases private partnerships in rural and remote areas of the country,” said Mr D.S. Rawat, national secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the findings of the chamber’s study.
“Promotion of agri export zone (AEZ) concept can not only help in achieving the goal of increasing the export earnings, but also provide several benefits like improvement of agricultural output, productivity, quality, reduction in post-harvest losses, up-gradation of technology, farmer’s skills and income, besides it also facilitates development of internationally competitive production base and creation of employment,” said Mr Rawat.
ASSOCHAM recommendations for reviving AEZs and boosting agri-food exports:
- The government should look to bring in private players for developing existing AEZs on a public-private partnership (PPP) model.
- Create awareness amid state governments field establishments that would generate public awareness about AEZs by organising awareness camps on a regular basis and adopting use of information and communications technology (ICT).
- Integration of government’s various schemes like Mega Food Parks and Cold Storage schemes with AEZs.
- Establishment of dedicated central monitoring authority with branches across states to overlook co-ordination to deal with issues regarding lack of monitoring system in AEZs.
- Introduction of a certification zoning system within the AEZ area to facilitate high value export and emphasizing regulatory checking through accredited agencies with varying frequency based on risk category.
- Promotion of organically grown tea, coffee, spices, fruits and vegetables, cereals, pulses and other organic produce as they account for majority of global trade. Besides, premiums on most organic products range 35-100 per cent which is considerably higher than regular produce.
- Due emphasis be given on creating Indian brands in agro and food products’ category which shall help in fetching good value of Indian agro-food exports. Besides, strong brands will also create goodwill for Indian products.
- Government should incentivize companies undertaking research and development (R&D) and constantly innovating in food and agri sector and help them in exploring export opportunities for specialty/innovative agro-food products.