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India to treble export of organic products by 2020

In April, the govt liberalised the quantity ceilings on organic products

Dilip Kumar Jha  |  Mumbai 

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Export of organically made products, both food and non-food, is likely to grow threefold in the four years to 2020, following the government's relaxation on quota limits.

According to the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda), Indian farmers produced around 1.35 million tonnes (mt) of certified in 2015-16 which include all varieties of food products namely sugarcane. Of this, export was 263,687 tonnes, worth $298 million (Rs 1,900 crore).

Through a notification dated April 19, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade liberalised the quantitative restrictions on export of such products.

“Perhaps the government had imposed such restrictions for ensuring food security at home. But, these were only discouraging farmers from intensifying work on We, therefore, had urged the government to liberalise the restrictions,” said Manoj Menon, executive director of Indian Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture, a Bengaluru-based network.

It believes the overall market of Rs 4,000 crore under the organic value chain would hit Rs 10,000 to 12,000 crore by 2020, with similar increase in export.

While export of organic wheat, non-basmati rice, edible oils and sugar have been exempted from all annual quantitative ceilings with immediate effect, those on pulses and lentils has been increased from 10,000 tonnes to 50,000 tonnes.

Farmer export is largely to Europe, Canada and West Asia. Oilseeds were half of India’s overall organic export, followed by processed food products at 25 per cent.

“Farmers tend to see low productivity and thereby low income for at least three years if they switch, from conventional or hybrid farming. Since organic farming does not use chemicals and fertiliser, the only way farmers can be compensated is through premiums for their produce. In fact, Indian like tea, vegetables and pulses fetch much higher premium from abroad than conventional and hybrid products there,” said a senior industry official. The difference is up to 100 per cent.

With around 50 per cent of market share, America is the biggest market for global organic produce, worth $80 billion. The area under organic certification in was 5.71 million hectares in 2015-16. Of this, about a fourth (1.49 million hectares) was cultivated area and the rest (4.22 million hectares) came under forest and wild areas, used for collection of minor forest produce.