Agri-Export Policy, 2018

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Context: The Agri Export Policy was announced last year with the objective of doubling the export and ensuring the doubling of farmers’ income. In order to achieve this objective, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has been adopting a focused approach for ensuring greater involvement of the State governments for effective implementation of the Agri Export Policy (AEP).

Mains: GS III- Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

What was the need for an export policy for agricultural produce?

  • India, with large and diverse agriculture, is among the world’s leading producers of cereals, milk, sugar, fruits and vegetables, spices, eggs, and seafood products.
  • Indian agriculture continues to be the backbone of our society and it provides livelihood to nearly 50% of our population.
  • India is supporting 17.84% of the world’s population, 15% of the livestock population with merely 2.4% of the world’s land and 4% water resources.
  • Hence, continuous innovation and efforts towards productivity, pre & post-harvest management, processing and value-addition, use of technology and infrastructure creation is imperative for Indian agriculture.
  • Various studies on fresh fruits and vegetables, fisheries in India have indicated a loss ranging from about 8% to 18% on account of poor post-harvest management, absence of cold chain and processing facilities.
  • Therefore, agro-processing and agricultural exports are a key area and it is a matter of satisfaction that India’s role in the global export of agricultural products is steadily increasing.
  • India is currently ranked tenth amongst the major exporters globally as per WTO trade data for 2016.
  • India’s share in global exports of agriculture products has increased from 1% a few years ago, to 2.2 % in 2016.

Agriculture Export Policy:

A dynamic nation of 1.3 billion consumers with rising discretionary incomes, changing food patterns, vast farming area, diverse agriculture and a large population dependent on agriculture has propelled India to the world’s center stage as a big consumer market and also as a key supplier of food products.

  • It has often been suggested that an essential element of “Make in India” has to be “Bake in India”, i.e. a renewed focus on value addition and on processed agricultural products.
  • The rapidly growing global population and shrinking farmlands are coupled with changing socio-economic, agroclimatic and dietary patterns.
  • This has challenged scientists and policymakers to reconsider how we grow and feed 7.5 billion global citizens.
  • India’s quest, then, is to grow sustainably, trade abundantly and progress harmoniously.
  • Agriculture export, if properly supported by infrastructure, institutional backup, packaging, freight transport and connected to the internal production system backed by market access will be in a position to transform the agricultural economy.

Vision and objectives:

The Agriculture Export Policy is framed with a focus on agriculture export-oriented production, export promotion, better farmer realization and synchronization within policies and programs of the Government of India.

  • Vision: Harness export potential of Indian agriculture, through suitable policy instruments, to make India global power in agriculture and raise farmers' income.
  • Objectives:
    1. To double agricultural exports from present ~US$ 30+ Billion to ~US$ 60+ Billion by 2022 and reach US$ 100 Billion in the next few years thereafter, with a stable trade policy regime.
    2. To diversify our export basket, destinations and boost high value and value-added agricultural exports including a focus on perishables.
    3. To promote novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional Agri products exports.
    4. To provide an institutional mechanism for pursuing market access, tackling barriers and deal with sanitary and phytosanitary issues.
    5. To strive to double India’s share in world agricultural exports by integrating with the global value chain at the earliest.
    6. Enable farmers to get the benefit of export opportunities in the overseas market.

Policy recommendations:

The policy recommendations in Agro-Export Policy are organized into two broad categories – strategic and operational.

Strategic Recommendations

  1. Policy Measures:
    • Discussions with public and private stakeholders across the agricultural value chain highlighted certain structural changes that were required to boost agricultural exports.
    • These comprise of both general and commodity-specific measures that may be urgently taken and at little to no financial cost.
    • The subsequent gains, however, are aplenty.
  2. Infrastructure and logistics: 
    • The presence of robust infrastructure is a critical component of a strong agricultural value chain.
    • This involves pre-harvest and post-harvest handling facilities, storage & distribution, processing facilities, roads, and world-class exit point infrastructure at ports facilitating swift trade.
    • Mega Food Parks, state-of-the-art testing laboratories and Integrated Cold Chains are the fundamentals on which India can increase its agricultural exports.
    • Given the perishable nature and stringent import standards for most of the food products, efficient and time-sensitive handling is extremely vital to agricultural commodities.
  3. A holistic approach to boost exports:
    • Agricultural exports are determined by supply-side factors, food security, processing facilities, infrastructure bottlenecks, and several regulations.
    • This involves multiple ministries and state departments.
    • Strategic and operational synergy across ministries will be key to boosting productivity and quality.
    • Greater involvement of State Governments in Agriculture Exports.

Operational Recommendations

  1. Focus on Clusters:
    • There is a need to evolve and put in place institutional mechanisms for effective involvement and engagement of small and medium farmers for the entire value chain as group enterprise(s) within a cluster of villages at the block level for select produce(s).
    • This will help to realize the actual benefit and empowerment of the farming community to double their income through the entire value chain
  2. Promoting value-added exports:
    1. Product development for indigenous commodities and value addition
    2. Promote value-added organic exports
    3. Promotion of R&D activities for new product development for the upcoming markets.
  3. Marketing and promotion of “Brand India”:
    • The stakeholders have suggested constituting separate funds dedicated to the marketing of organic, value-added, ethnic, GI, Region-specific and branded products.
    • It is also recommended that marketing campaigns be created for individual fruits or products such as “Wonderful Pom” and “Bananas of India”.
    • This fund would primarily be utilized for a sustained communication campaign in the form of a branding blitz across key targeted markets.
    • This must utilize both digital and traditional media platforms.
    • The government must continue its concerted efforts for targeted GI registration, stakeholder negotiation and preservation of GI tag. 
  4. Attract private investments in export-oriented activities and infrastructure: 
    • Post-Harvest Infrastructure supports the smooth logistical movement of Agri produce.
    • This will have a direct co-relationship in increasing export volumes, assuring quality & ensuring better price realization per unit.
  5. Ease of Doing Business (EODB)& Digitization: 
    • Digitization of land records, geo-mapping of lands, registration of farmers and farm producer organizations (FPOs) is critical to the implementation of the smooth agricultural export policy.
  6. Developing Sea Protocol:
    • Developing sea protocols for perishables must be taken on priority for long-distance markets.
    • The export of perishables requires special storage, transportation, and handling at desired temperatures.
    • Time is a major constraint and air freight proves costly for exporters while low volumes and poor infrastructure make it unviable for airlines to transport produce.
    • However, India’s export of fresh produce can grow exponentially if sea protocols are established across exported/exportable varieties of shortlisted commodities.
    • A sea protocol will indicate at what maturity level harvesting can be done for transportation by sea. 
  1. Establishment of Strong Quality Regimen:
    • Setting quality standards, enforcing such standards and a robust accreditation and certification arrangement to identify export worthy establishments will be facilitating further exports. 

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