Export of lab grown diamonds (LGDs) from India recorded a growth of 51 per cent in 2022, according to a reply by the Union Commerce Ministry in the Lok Sabha.

In a written reply on Wednesday, Anupriya Patel, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, said the export of LGDs increased to $1,780.59 million in 2022 against $1,178.77 million in 2021.

India exported LGDs valued at $532.35 million and $445.56 million in 2020 and 2019, respectively. Stating that the natural diamond market in India is marginal, she said most of the diamonds cut and polished in India are exported.

LGDs are a low-cost alternative to natural diamonds, having the same chemical and optical properties. As a result, higher production of LGDs will further reduce costs and that is expected to expand the diamond market in India.

“Natural diamond production has peaked and is expected to decline in the medium to long term. With the introduction of LGDs, the aggregate consumption of diamonds would increase thereby increasing employment opportunities,” she said.

LGDs being chemically and optically the same as natural diamonds, the skill set required for cutting and polishing of LGDs are similar to that of natural diamonds, the Minister said.

Skimmed milk exports

To a separate query on the export of skimmed milk products, Patel said the export of skimmed milk powder has increased from $35.80 million in 2020-21 to $132.66 million in 2021-22, registering a growth of 270 per cent.

India exported 46,293.10 tonnes of skimmed milk powder in 2021-22 against 13,457.10 tonnes in 2020-21. India exported 16,349.12 tonnes of skimmed milk powder valued at $62.30 million till January 2022-23, she said.

Referring to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Statistical Pocket Book 2022, the Minister said India is the largest milk producer in the world with 183.95 million tonnes of milk production in 2020. This was 20.74 per cent of total milk production in the world.

Agri exports

To another query on the export of commodities such as wheat, rice and sugar, Anupriya Patel said exports of wheat have declined after the export was prohibited on May 13, 2022.

Monthly exports of non-basmati rice have remained lower from September 2022, than the pre-restrictions level of August 2022. The export of broken rice was banned vide DGFT notification dated September 8, 2022. An export duty of 20 per cent was imposed on the export of other non-basmati varieties, excluding parboiled rice.

With effect from June 1, 2022, the export of sugar is allowed only with specific permission from the Directorate of Sugar, Department of Food and Public Distribution.

This has been done to prevent the uncontrolled export of sugar and to ensure sufficient availability of sugar for domestic consumption at a reasonable price. Monthly exports of sugar from June 2022 onwards have remained below the pre-restriction level of May 2022, except in December 2022, she said.

Modernising tea sector

To a query on the steps taken to reform and modernise tea sector, the Minister said the draft Tea (Promotion and Development) Bill, 2022 aims at the reorientation of the Tea Board to play a more facilitative role and engage in overall promotion and development of the tea sector (including promotion of Indian tea in both domestic and international markets).

The draft Tea (Promotion and Development) Bill, 2022 was placed in the public domain (website of the Department of Commerce and the Tea Board) for three months with effect from January 10, 2022, and comments/suggestions from 101 stakeholders, including State governments, associations, organisations, and the general public were received.

Further, inter-ministerial consultations have been undertaken, she added.