Agri Business

How Indian horticultural exports have overcome pandemic challenges

M Angamuthu | Updated on July 04, 2021

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India’s huge potential to further expand horticultural exports could boost farmers’ income

While the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the global supply chains in a major way since the beginning of 2020, India has been able to boost exports of agricultural and processed food products despite challenges posed by the pandemic.

The significant growth in production has also led to enhancement of exports of fruits and vegetables to the major traditional markets of UK, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bangladesh and West Asian countries. Notwithstanding the challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a significant jump in the exports of horticultural crops during 2020-21.

The realisation from India's fruits and vegetables exports rose to Rs 11,019 crore ($1487 million) in 2020-21 from Rs 10,114 crore ($ 1408 million) reported in 2019-20. The value of processed fruits and vegetables exports grew to Rs 10,277 crore ($ million 1386) in 2020-21 from Rs 8315 crore ($ 1164 million) in 2019-20. APEDA has made persistent marketing efforts with European Union (EU) markets resulting in exports growth of more than 9 per cent in 2020-21 over the year 2019-20.

APEDA has been making efforts to boosts exports of fruits, vegetables and plantation crops through taking series of measures including creating adequate infrastructure, ensuring supplies of quality input material, controlling pests and diseases, ensuring compliance of phyto-sanitary norms and establishment of market linkages for boosting exports through collaborations with various institutions.

Infrastructure development

APEDA has been assisting exporters for setting up modern integrated packhouses and purchase of refrigerated vehicles to support the supply chain in horticulture. This has largely helped exporters of fresh horticulture produce like mangoes, pomegranates, grapes, bananas, fresh vegetables and the floriculture sector. Due to the short shelf life of most fruits and vegetables, more than 50 per cent of exports are through air cargo to destinations such as the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Africa and the Middle-East.

The modern integrated pack houses which are able to meet the requirements of issues associated with quality and post-management have helped the horticulture export sector. APEDA has assisted in the establishment of around 250 export oriented European Union norm compliant pack houses in the private sector. The financial assistance provided to the State Government under Infrastructure Development has also enhanced the exports potential.

Clusters based approach

For the implementation of the Agri Export Policy announced in 2018, 14 product clusters spread across in six states dedicated to horticulture products have been identified. The model of Banana exports from the clusters of Anantapur and Theni in Tamil Nadu, Jalgaon and Solapur in Maharashtra have been testimony to this fact. Similar success has been achieved by increasing exports of mangoes from clusters in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Other successful models have been for grapes from Nashik, vegetables from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The farmer centric model of cluster development has taken place in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. The export hub project of vegetable and fruit has been able to demonstrate usefulness of backward and forward linkages.

Collaboration with institutions

APEDA is currently collaborating with institutions such as Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) for export-oriented research to support Indian Horticulture exports. Linkages with organizations like IFFCO, ITC, Agri Universities & Krishi Vigyan Kendras is also promoting appropriate farm practices.

Market access

The countries do impose the restrictions of market access and sometimes non-tariff barriers to inhibit the imports. The tool is also used to bargain for market access of their produce in India. The horticulture produced in India is subject to competition in international markets from Asian countries like China, Japan, Thailand, Philippines etc. Similarly, competition is also faced from CIS countries and the other leading fresh produce regions from Africa and America. The absence of bilateral agreements between major importers and India has also proved to be disadvantageous. The examples are exports of fruits and vegetables from Africa and Latin America to Europe. These countries enjoy preferential duty concessions and at the same time face no technical barriers while exporting, as compared to India. APEDA proposes aggressive negotiations for bilateral agreement for turning the table in favour of India.

There is a need for better marketing avenues to Indian exporters by undertaking huge branding exercises to place the produce in the shelves of major marketing chains. Efforts have been made by organising product specific and country specific Buyer Seller Meets to help branding of Indian horticulture produce. India has huge potential to further expand the export of horticultural crops. This could boost farmers’ income.

(The author is Chairman, APEDA)

Published on July 04, 2021

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