Indian dairy companies will have to wait for sometime more to enter the lucrative Russian market as the country continues to dilly-dally over the procedure that the Centre seeks to follow to ensure that exports are free of contaminants.

The Russian standards authority, Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillances (FSVPS), has asked the Commerce Ministry to send a team of experts to Moscow this month to personally explain to them how small dairies would ensure that their products were safe.

Safety aspects

“We had sent a report prepared by the Export Inspection Council (EIC) explaining the safety aspects in details through our embassy in Moscow, but now they want a meeting with officials dealing directly with it. We are hopeful that after this meeting our dairy industry will finally get access to the market,” an official told BusinessLine .

The Commerce Ministry will send a delegation of senior officials to Moscow later this month which will include experts from the EIC and Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) to discuss one-on-one issues raised by FSVPS on veterinary inspection of dairy animals to ensure they were disease-free.

“The indications that we have got from the Russians so far on allowing market access to all dairy plants are positive. However, the final view will be clear only after the meeting,” the official said.

Cap over capacity

Initially, Russia had said that it would allow dairy exports from only those plants that had its own cattle farm with over 1,000 cattle, as it could then get a certificate from an authorised veterinarian servicing the dairy. It wants certificates specifying that the cattle had been properly vaccinated and was free of foot-and-mouth disease, tuberculosis, brucellosis and leukemia. India opposed the move as it would lead to disqualification of most dairy companies in India, including Amul.

“As we specified in our EIC report, we are going to tell the FSVPS that we will identify clusters of villages from where dairy plants source their milk and assign veterinarians for those specific clusters who could give the required certification,” the official said.

Russia’s annual imports of food items from Western countries are to the tune of $40 billion, but it has banned imports of most food products from the region due to the on-going Ukrainian crisis. New Delhi has been trying to get a chunk of that business.