India recently restricted wheat and sugar export by allowing them only with government permits. The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), which is mandated to promote agri exports, faces a tough job in such a situation to maintain a balance. In an interview with BusinessLine, APEDA Chairman M Angamuthu said when there is a strong export demand in the global market which keeps on increasing rapidly, India has to strike a balance between domestic requirements and global demand. However, an export-led agricultural research and development strategy is the way forward to improve productivity, qualitatively and quantitatively on sustainable basis, he said. Excerpts:
How has been the results of some new initiatives of APEDA in recent years?
APEDA’s new initiatives coupled with our Prime Minister’s theme ‘Local goes Global’ endeavoured to drive new innovative/GI products to the global market, pushing ahead India’s self-driven agri exports beyond $50 billion in 2021-22, in which APEDA promoted products had a share of 52 per cent.
There is a rise in exports to major destinations and also remarkable growth in each segment has been noticed. India’s floriculture sector blossomed when GI-tagged Madurai Malli (jasmine) was sent to the US and Sharjah. Every now and then APEDA flagged a new/GI product from unexplored villages to new destinations. Jamun fruit, displayed recently in the London market, was from Lucknow. Similarly, saffron from Kashmir was displayed in Dubai markets.
Recently, APEDA facilitated export of freeze-dried strawberries from Madhya Pradesh to the US. Besides, we organised buyer-seller meet in Ladakh facilitating more than 30 producers of apricots and other agri products from the region as well as from Jammu and Kashmir for B2B interactions to augment exports from the region.
Opening up of regional offices in nine places led to increase in exports from those areas. We have reached every nook and corner of the country, even the forest region such as Korba, and exported dehydrated Mahua flowers to France, etc. A week-long Indian mango promotion programme was organised in Bahrain where 16 varieties of the fruit were displayed. APEDA participated with exporters in London Wine Fair for the first time to promote Indian alcoholic beverages, though we had hold a number of workshops and wine tasting events at international trade shows in the past.
It has been seen that whenever there is some issue at domestic front, export becomes the first casualty causing setback for a credible destination in agri products. Is there any solution?
India is a major player with a vast range of agricultural products. Of course, national food security is the primary need of every country, there may be prohibitions or restrictions. However, India will progressively march ahead by increasing productivity. When there is a strong export demand in the global market which keeps on increasing rapidly, a country has to strike a balance between domestic requirements and global demand. An export-led agricultural research and development strategy is a way forward to improve productivity qualitatively and quantitatively on sustainable basis.
APEDA entered into joint ventures with state agricultural universities and research institutions under ICAR for development to meet this objective. Simultaneously, we are regularly organising meetings with FPOs/FPCs/women entrepreneurs and over 300 capacity building programmes were organised in 2021-22.
We are an agrarian country with a basket full of agricultural produce and also a global leader in a range of products. We have ample opportunities to avail of in global market with new products. Shifting the export paradigm as per global demand is the solution.
How far States are placed in export promotion of agri products and where do you see the challenges which can be jointly overcome?
As we are aware, import is becoming more stringent with importing countries demanding traceability at farm level, backward linkages are required to be strengthened to boost exports. State has defined roles for production, but some are less inclined towards exports. Pesticide residues issue is a major concern that hampers exports and there is a requirement of creating awareness amongst farmers for judicious use of pesticides and also need for sensitisation to address unregulated chemicals usage at farm level.
APEDA’s association with agriculture universities will ensure training for FPOs/FPCs/farmers/new entrepreneurs spreading a wave of knowledge for export-oriented quality production in India. It has often been observed that exports are more from strategic locations. But landlocked production areas have connectivity issues and face challenges. APEDA has been chipping in for upliftment of export of potential products from these regions by addressing the challenges.
Traceability was brought in by APEDA as per requirement of importing country to procure the produce from registered farmers/units. Accordingly, certified consignments were exported as per the requirement of importing countries. In the coming years, exports may be affected in absence of farmer’s registration.
As we are aware, India is one of the largest producers of milk, pulses, mangoes, banana, okra, rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnut, buffalo meat and also in spices, fish, poultry, livestock and plantation, crops, there is a good potential for export of these items. By bringing in technical intervention such as development of sea protocol with greater shelf life will persuade the products to penetrate import markets competitively.
When can we expect agri export to touch $60 billion and any particular strategy for it?
India’s agricultural exports spurted by 20 per cent to $50 billion in 2021-22. Considering this growth rate, there is a probability of touching $60 billion in a few years.
How is the progress report on One District One Product (ODOP) in export?
APEDA has been synergizing with different other ministries – Agriculture and Food Processing as well as with directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT) for convergence of cluster development schemes. The activities are being aligned with the clusters identified under the agri export policy (AEP) and those common with other schemes including ODOP for seeking a convergence.