Agri Business

‘Trade pacts must to achieve farm export target’

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on March 21, 2019

India has set a target to double farm exports by 2022 from the current level of $30 billion and subsequently increase exports to $100 billion over the following years

India needs to ensure that the importance of the WTO is not diminished and start re-engaging with regional and global trade blocks to achieve its farm-export target of $100 billion over the next few years, said an expert on Thursday.

“It is in India’s interest to make sure that the WTO becomes the primary institution through which countries negotiate their trade and without that you’ll undoubtedly lose,” said Ian Coxhead, Professor, Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, on Thursday.

He was speaking at inaugural of a two-day international conference, Emerging Scenario in Agribusiness, organised by the Indian Institute of Plantation Management, Bengaluru.

India has set a target to double farm exports by 2022 from the current level of $30 billion and subsequently increase exports to $100 billion over the following years.

Terming the export target ‘ambitious’, Coxhead said India needs to make a commitment to re-engage with regional and global trade blocks while addressing distortions in its trade policy and supply chain inefficiencies, mainly the cold chain, to succeed with its farm exports.

More than two-thirds of India’s farm exports are from rice and animal products, while incentives are being handed out to diversify the export basket.

Challenges, opportunities

Coxhead said India’s domestic policy has a strong consumer bias and is anti-trade. Also, the country’s agri-policy’s primary objective is addressing food security. As a result, it has the unfortunate side effect of discouraging production for exports, Coxhead said.

Though India may gain from the deteriorating global trade relations due the on-going trade war between the US and China, and the exit of Britain from Europe, it faces headwinds as it is not a cost-efficient producer, Coxhead observed. Prof Gopal Naik of the Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru, said the risks faced by farmers are much higher as it is not just about poor prices, but also substandard inputs such as fertilisers and spurious seeds.

The decline in extension services is taking a toll on agriculture, Naik observed, while stressing on the need for public investments. World over, precision agriculture has helped farmers improve productivity, Naik said. India should develop cheaper and affordable precision technology to develop a competitive agribusiness system in the country, he added.

Venkatesan Ashok, India’s former consul-general in California, said the Indian farmers should start thinking of himself as an entrepreneur and focus on value addition.

Prof VG Dhanakumar, Director, IIPM, said the two-day seminar aimed at taking stock of the changing global business scenario in agriculture and examine potential developments.

Published on March 21, 2019

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