India ranked ninth in 2019 with 3.1% of the global agricultural exports, according to a World Trade Organisation (WTO) research report (trends in world agricultural trade in the last 25 years). India's agricultural exports expanded at a CAGR of 5.3% between 2010 and 2019 compared with China (4.6%), Brazil (2.7%) and the US (2.1%). Exports of coffee, grains and horticulture goods doubled during this time, while exports of meat, fish and processed products increased 3-5x.
Indian agricultural and horticultural products as well as processed foods are exported to over 100 countries including the Middle Eastern, SAARC and EU countries and the US. India has become a major exporter of rice, meat, spices, raw cotton, and sugar and is competent in exporting specialty agriculture products such as basmati rice, guar gum and castor oil.
Agriculture exports in the recent years: After three years (FY18: US$ 38.43 billion, FY19: US$ 38.74 billion and FY20: US$ 35.16 billion) of stagnation, India's agriculture & allied product exports increased by 17.34% YoY to US$ 41.25 billion in FY21. This upward trend is projected to continue in the current fiscal year. Strong worldwide demand for sugar, cotton, oilcakes, oilseeds, and non-basmati rice, as well as government measures, will push agricultural exports over US$ 40 billion in FY22.
Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA); Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA); and commodity boards such as the coffee, rubber and spice boards are authorised to encourage agricultural commodity exports.
Initiatives to Promote Exports of Agricultural Products
Agriculture Export Policy (AEP)
The Agriculture Export Policy (AEP) was introduced by the Department of Commerce (DoC) in December 2018 with focus on agriculture export-oriented production, export promotion, improved price realisation to farmers and synchronisation with government policies & programmes. The policy mandates a ‘Farmer-centric Approach' to increase revenue by adding value at the source and reducing losses throughout the value chain.
Objectives of AEP:
- To diversify export basket, destinations and boost high value and value-added agricultural exports including focus on perishable commodities
- To promote exports of new, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional, and non-traditional agricultural products
- To provide an institutional framework for pursuing market access, overcoming impediments, and dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary concerns
- To double India's share of global agricultural exports by integrating with the global value chain
- To enable farmers to take advantage of export opportunities in the international market
Implementation of AEP:
Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Manipur, Sikkim, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Uttarakhand, as well as the two Union Territories (UTs) of Ladakh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, have finalised state-specific action plans as part of the AEP implementation. In 25 states and four UTs, a state-level monitoring committee has been constituted. In 2018, the government also announced the Transport and Marketing Aid (TMA) scheme, which would give financial assistance for agricultural product transportation and marketing to enhance exports to certain EU and North American countries.
46 distinct product-district clusters have been selected for export promotion as part of the AEP. In 11 states, 29 cluster-level committees spanning 67 districts have been constituted. The following are some examples of cluster success stories:
- Vegetable Cluster, Varanasi: As of June 2021, the Varanasi cluster in Uttar Pradesh (UP) exported 48 MT of fresh vegetables (green chilli, long guard, green peas, cucumber, etc.), 10 MT of mangoes (banarasi, langra, ramkheda and chausa) and 532 MT of black rice through Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs).
- Pomegranate Cluster, Solapur: In FY21, the Solapur cluster in Maharashtra exported 32,315 MT of pomegranates.
- Mango Cluster, Andhra Pradesh: A consignment of banganapalli and survarnarekha mangoes (acquired from growers in the Krishna and Chittoor cluster districts) were exported to South Korea during the mango season of 2021. The cluster produced 109 MT of mangoes, which were shipped to the Middle East, the EU, the UK, and New Zealand.
- Rose Onion Cluster, Karnataka: Between October 2020 and December 2020, 7,168 MT of rose onions were exported to Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
- Banana Cluster, Gujarat: Between April 2020 and June 2021, 6,198 MT of fresh bananas were exported to Middle Eastern countries including Bahrain, Dubai, Georgia, Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, and Iraq.
- Grapes Cluster, Maharashtra: The Nasik district cluster exported 6,797 containers totalling 91,762 MT of fresh grapes to the EU in FY21.
Key Measures Taken During the COVID-19 Pandemic:
- During the COVID-19 lockdown (2020), APEDA/Commodity Boards established a 24-hour emergency response cell to assist exporters with difficulties such as transfer of consignments/trucks/labourers, issuing of certifications, lab testing reports and sample collecting. The cell received 1,000 calls in the first week of the lockdown reporting various challenges experienced by exporters, which were resolved by engaging with relevant authorities—state administration, customs, ports, shipping, etc.—and ensuring real-time clearance of exports.
- Due to the lack of international trade fairs amid COVID-19, APEDA has established an in-house platform for organising virtual trade fairs (VTF) to connect Indian exporters and importers. Two VTFs have been previously organised—the ‘India rice and agro commodities' show and the ‘India fruits, vegetables and floriculture' show. In FY22, APEDA will host three VTFs—an ‘Indian processed food' show, an ‘Indian meat and poultry' show and an ‘Indian organic products' show.
- APEDA opened regional/extension/project offices in Chennai, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Kochi and J&K, an extension office in Bhopal and a project office in Varanasi to help exporters in various parts of the country.
- APEDA has worked closely with the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) to make the most of the Operation Green scheme (a project sanctioned by the MoFPI to stabilise supply of tomato, onion and potato crops in India and ensure availability throughout the year without price volatility), which has now been expanded to most horticulture crops because of COVID-19.
- In July 2021, the Uttar Pradesh government announced formation of a state-level body to create a process for identifying new viable items for Geographical Indication (GI) registration, documentation, and export promotion of all such products through branding and marketing; GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and reflects traits or characteristics that are indigenous to that geography. As of December 2020, there were 26 items with GI certifications.
- Major boost to agricultural exports from Uttarakhand:
- In July 2021, the first consignment of vegetables comprising curry leaf, okra, pear, and bitter gourd (supplied by farmers in Haridwar, Uttarakhand) was exported to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
- The first consignment of millets from Uttarakhand was exported to Denmark in May 2021. In conjunction with the Uttarakhand Agriculture Produce Marketing Board (UKAPMB) and Just Organik, an exporter, APEDA sourced and processed finger millet (ragi) and barnyard millet (jhingora) from farmers in Uttarakhand for export, meeting the EU's organic certification standards. Thousands of farmers in Uttarakhand have been extended helped by the Uttarakhand Agriculture Produce Marketing Board (UKAPMB) to obtain organic certification.
- Producers and exporters of organic fruits and vegetables (who want to sell products in developed countries that have adopted organic standards and regulations) must follow the requirements of the importing country. The National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) outlined the groundwork for the country's organic movement and has played a significant role in establishing the organic sector's legitimacy in national and international commerce.
- APEDA intends to update and strengthen the NPOP by accrediting certification bodies, establishing organic production standards, and promoting organic farming and marketing among other things. These initiatives, together with an emphasis on organic diversity with GI products, will help boost organic vegetable exports. The total volume of organic products exported from India in FY21 was 8.88 lakh metric tonnes, with an export value of Rs. 7,078 crore (US$ 1 billion). Exports of organic products grew 25-47% YoY between FY17 and FY19, except for the dip in FY20.
- In May 2021, the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), in collaboration with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), opened India's first and only Agriculture Export Facilitation Centre in Pune, Maharashtra. The new facilitation centre will work as a one-stop shop for exporters in the agricultural sector as well as boost agricultural exports from the region, as per global standards.
- The centre would provide expert advice to potential exporters on a variety of topics including pesticide residue management, global gap certification, potential importing countries' product preferences, quality parameters, preconditions, orchard management for export-oriented production, harvesting time and methods, quality parameters, production technology, greenhouse production, post-harvest management, packing, airport, seaport and unloading procedures in importing countries.
- In March 2021, the Arunachal Pradesh Agriculture Marketing Board (APAMB) hosted a three-day ‘conference-cum-buyer-seller meet' at the legislative assembly in partnership with APEDA.
- The meeting brought together a diverse group of stakeholders including 25 APFPEDA-registered exporters from across the country, farmers from 25 districts and managing directors and chief executive officers from ~12 FPOs.
- In January 2021, the first consignment of 250 kgs of royal chilli (raja mircha), with GI labelling, was transported to the UK.
- In December 2020, APEDA and NABARD signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate in the agricultural and related industries to provide better value to stakeholders. The MoU will allow FPOs to make use of NABARD and APEDA's relevant schemes and initiatives for their development. It will also make exports easier for NABARD-assisted/promoted FPOs.
Agri-processing and agri-exports are becoming increasingly important, especially because India's post-harvest losses are substantial (8-18%). Poor post-harvest management and lack of cold chain and processing facilities are among the causes. Rather than letting the produce to go to waste, a well-thought-out export system will assist in reducing losses while also generating income for the country.
A crucial component of ‘Make in India’ must be ‘Bake in India’, i.e., renewed focus on value addition and processed agricultural goods. Agriculture export will be able to revolutionise the agricultural economy if it is properly supported by infrastructure, institutional back-up, packaging, and freight transport and is connected to the internal production system with market access.