For the first time perhaps, India’s agricultural products exports have received global attention with an annual shipment of $32 billion during 2011-12. With exports for the current fiscal inching towards the $40 billion mark, the government has its task cut out for the implementation of a robust system where shipments of products take place without any restrictions. Sandip Das and Kirtika Suneja spoke to Asit Tripathy, joint secretary (agriculture), ministry of commerce, who is also the chairman of the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), on issues concerning food exports. Excerpts:
There has been a huge jump in India’s agricultural and processed food exports. What factors have contributed to this surge in exports?
The exports of agricultural products have more than doubled in the last four years. The exports turnover during 2011-12 has been $32.62 billion. The growth trend continues as exports of agricultural and processed foods have grown by more than 23% during April-December 2012 compared to the same period last year. The export value during April-December 2012 is reported at $28.9 billion.
As per the latest statistics released by the WTO for the global trend, India’s share in global agricultural exports has gone up to more than 2% at present. There has been a significant growth in this share in the last couple of years, which is important keeping in view the large domestic demand for agricultural products.
What are the key commodities whose exports have seen a surge in the last five years? What could be the reasons for the surge in shipments?
Major performers are Basmati and non-Basmati rice, bovine meat, guargum, peanuts, wheat and processed food exports. One of the major contributors to the growth in the last two years has been the policy decision announced by the government, particularly in September 2011, to permit exports of wheat and non-Basmati rice. There may not be ‘no period’ like 2011 to 2013 when there was no Minimum Export Price (MEP) regime on various food items including Basmati rice. The growth in the export of processed food products has been mainly coming from initiatives by the government through APEDA and other agencies in the area of infrastructure and quality development.
Could you elaborate on the infrastructure that supported India’s agricultural goods exports?
Infrastructure for common use, such as integrated pack houses for fruits and vegetables and centres for storage of export cargo of perishable agri-products at the airports, have contributed significantly