Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has moved to digital platform, named VTF, as an additional benefit for exporters in getting market access even in unknown territory. On the sidelines of the Global Millets (Shree Anna) Conference, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, about 100-odd exhibitors of unique products of millets have also showcased their products.

The Virtual Trade Fair (VTF) is operational 24x7, 365 days wherein exhibitors and buyers can interact based on the products displayed there.

Pratibha Tiwari of Bhopal, who launched her start up a year back, is very excited to get buyers’ response as some importers from the Philippines had visited on the first day. “As the conference was there the first half was not that great but post-lunch people are coming. I am aware of the digital mode of the exhibition and hopefully it will allow us market access to non-traditional countries,” she said.

Global buyers

Around 100 international buyers from the US, UAE, Kuwait, Germany, Vietnam, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Bhutan, Italy and Malaysia have been invited to the conference, said APEDA Chairman M Angamuthu. “This conference provides an excellent opportunity for trade and networking among the participants,” he said.

APEDA requested 30 potential millet importing countries to send their major buyers for this conference to visit the exhibition, the commerce ministry said in a statement. Additionally, the details of all the millet exhibitors under different categories have been displayed digitally through which the importers can source millets directly from the Indian millet producers, it said.

“It (VTF) is a good initiative and going forward definitely there will be improvement both in terms of awareness among exhibitors and also virtual footfall of visitors including importers,” said an expert. He said some of the exhibitors are not even aware that the contact number given at the QR code in digital platform should not be switched off or should be responded when calls made. APEDA has to make efforts in bringing the awareness among exhibitors, he added.

Millets’ exports

The event has provided a platform for B2B meetings between international buyers on one hand and exporters, progressive growers, FPOs on the other to explore direct marketing and export opportunities for millets and its value-added products, the ministry said.

India’s export of millets was $64 million in the year 2021-22 and there was an increase of 12.5 per cent reported during April-December 2022-23 as compared to the same period last year. The major importing countries were US, Australia, Japan, Belgium in 2011-12 which had been shifted to Nepal ($ 6.09 million), UAE ($ 4.84 million) and Saudi Arabia ($ 3.84 million) in 2021-22. The other seven destinations in the current top-ten list of India’s millet exports are Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, UK, Yemen, Oman and Algeria, though millets are shipped to 139 countries.