Growth in agricultural exports, despite pandemic disruptions, has been driven by the government’s policy-level interventions as well as the expansion of products into new markets, Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan said on Thursday.
After remaining stagnant for the last three years, the export of agriculture and allied products during 2020-21 grew 17.34 per cent to $41.25 billion. In 2017-18 and 2018-19, they hovered around $38 billion, thereafter declining to $35.16 billion in 2019-20. In the first two months of the current fiscal year, there was a 43 per cent jump, Wadhawan told media persons in a virtual briefing.
“Growth was due to the opportunities that Covid-19 offered. It was also due to various programmes emanating from agriculture policy that came into effect in December 2018. It was implemented in districts and clusters. Many clusters and districts that were not exporting earlier have started doing it now,” Wadhawan said.
India is seeing growth in the export of cereals, non-basmati rice, wheat, millets, maize, and other coarse grains. The largest markets for India’s agricultural products are the US, China, Bangladesh, the UAE, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Nepal, Iran, and Malaysia.
An official statement said that the highest growth has been recorded in Indonesia (102.42 per cent), Bangladesh (95.93 per cent), and Nepal (50.49 per cent).
Besides, exports, including those of fresh vegetables and mangoes from Varanasi and black rice from Chandauli, have taken place from several clusters for the first time.
Demand for Indian cereals was robust in 2020-21, with shipments sent to several countries for the first time, such as rice to countries like Timor-Leste, Puerto Rico, and Brazil. Similarly, wheat was despatched to countries such as Yemen, Indonesia, and Bhutan, and other cereals have been exported to Sudan, Poland, Bolivia, said Diwakar Nath Mishra, joint secretary at the commerce ministry. Demand for more health products such millets, ginger turmeric, quinoa is rising.
According to Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) Chairman M Angamuthu, there has been a rise in demand for organic products. Organic exports that include products such as cereals and millets, spices and condiments, tea, medicinal plant products, dry fruits, and sugar grew 51 per cent year on year to $1,040 million. The growth can also be attributed to demand for such products due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
Pesticide residue problems have affected exports of basmati rice -- key traditional export product -- to the EU due to stringent norms imposed for chemicals such as Tricyclazole and Buprofezin, extensively used in rice cultivation in India. Testing by the Export Inspection Council (EIC) has been made mandatory for basmati exports to the EU, which led to a decrease in the number of alerts.
“Punjab imposed a ban on sales of nine chemicals, including Tricyclazole and Buprofezin, during the Kharif season 2020. APEDA, in collaboration with the trade bodies, has taken measures to create awareness in the basmati-growing areas. Efforts are also being made to ensure that the process for fixing Import Tolerance Limits (ITLs) for Tricyclazole and Buprofezin by the EU is not delayed,” an official statement said.
As far as the Services Exports from India Scheme (SEIS) is concerned, Wadhwan said when the department made a new foreign trade policy, “what we need to do for services will be taken into account based on stakeholder feedback and other inputs”.