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Agricultural Exports To Be Boosted By Government’s Two Mega Plans

Gati Shakti and the National Monetisation Plan are building infrastructure to support the expansion of shipping.

Chintu Das
Agri Export Shipments
Agri Export Shipments

Despite the increase in agricultural exports, the obstacles presented by Covid-19, particularly in the last year and a half (2020-21 and April-September 2021), show that India's ecosystem for entrepreneurs, businesses, and farmers is solid, and the future looks bright if we remain focused on region-specific product promotion via infrastructure investment to fortify the agricultural logistics value chain. 

Regardless of the obstacles posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted global supply lines, India was one of the few countries that continued to export agricultural commodities, including grains, livestock, fruits, and vegetables. 

India's agricultural and allied product exports (including marine and plantation goods) increased by more than 17% to $41.25 billion in 2020-21, following three years of stagnation ($38.43 billion in 2017-18, $38.74 billion in 2018-19, and $35.16 billion in 2019-20). In 2020-21, the trend in exports under the APEDA monitored products increased by 24% (US dollar) and 22% (Rs) compared to the previous fiscal year. 

Dependable Supplier 

In terms of US dollars, overall exports of APEDA basket products increased 17.6% in the first half of this fiscal year compared to the same period last year. From April to September 2020-21 to April to September 2021-22, total exports of APEDA-monitored items grew from $8,512 million to $10,007 million. This increase in exports also suggests that India has established itself as a trustworthy worldwide provider of several agricultural goods. 

Our (APEDA) measures have aided the country in reaching this milestone at a time when most economic operations have been severely hampered by the limitations imposed during the second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic. 

APEDA's various initiatives for the export promotion of agricultural and processed food products, such as organising B2B exhibitions in different countries, exploring new potential markets through product specific and general marketing campaigns with active involvement of Indian embassies, have resulted in an increase in export of agricultural and processed food products. 

GatiShakti - National Master Plan 

Several efforts are being implemented to boost India's agricultural commodity exports, taking into account the broader vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's GatiShakti – National Master Plan for Multi-modal Connectivity, which was recently unveiled. All sectors are connected under the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan, from roads to railroads, aviation to agriculture, and different ministries and departments. 

Work on implementing GatiShakti has begun or is currently underway in a number of regions. Mapping current agri-infrastructure, with an emphasis on local commerce and export opportunities, would aid in identifying locations where infrastructure needs to be upgraded. Mapping would aid in the identification of bottlenecks in the value chain of India's agricultural exports. 

In India's agricultural exports value chain, work on enhancing the current infrastructure or logistical value chain is underway. APEDA aims to expand the number of destinations and goods available for export promotion while maintaining the one district, one product or cluster-based approaches in mind. The potential for eastern and north-eastern states to expand India's agricultural and processed food products is enormous, and APEDA has made significant efforts in recent years to improve infrastructure such as cold chains, pack houses, and aid to farmers for quality goods. 

Over The Next Few Years, Major Focus Areas Are 

Building new infrastructure in all agricultural export clusters, such as a Centre for Perishable Cargo, Integrated Packhouses, Laboratories accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), cold storage units, warehouses, and integrated container terminals, is being undertaken with close inter-ministerial collaboration. The creation of multimodal logistics and transportation hubs should be a key focus of effort in the upcoming years. 

APEDA has been focusing on the registration and marketing of new Geographical Indication (GI)-tagged items, which will assist diversify the export product basket. Some of the activities APEDA has launched in recent years include strengthening existing backward connections with farmers through inter-ministerial cooperation for the production of high-quality produce that meets global standards. 

Another project under the GatiShakti program is to develop the current Kisan rail networks and connect them with major producing regions in order to improve exports and the local market. The extension of circuits for Kisan Rail services for the movement of vegetables, fruits, and other perishables is being identified through dialogues between several ministries, state governments, as well as local authorities, agencies, and mandis boards. So far, 1040 Kisan Rail services have been run on 72 routes around the nation till July 2021. 

Meanwhile, APEDA has released operating instructions for the 2021-22 to 2025-26 financial support plan for export promotion. The initiative intends to make agri-product exports easier by assisting exporters in three areas: developing export infrastructure, improving production quality, and expanding market opportunities. 

The National Monetisation Pipeline, which intends to enhance infrastructure through private investment, and the GatiShakti projects are projected to boost and sustain India's agricultural and processed food exports in the years ahead. 

Source: BusinessLine 

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