Russian boost for Indias dairy sector

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 27 2014, 08:18am hrs
Russia's move to ban fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports from the US, EU, Australia and Canada in response to sanctions imposed on it has thrown up opportunities for Indias dairy sector.

A team of experts from the federal service for veterinary and phyto-sanitary surveillance, ministry of agriculture of the Russian federation, will commence an inspection later this week of milk processing units belonging to dairy players such as Amul (Gujarat Milk Marketing Federation) and Mother Dairy (National Dairy Development Board) to explore the possibility of Russian imports of dairy items from them.

Sources told FE the Russian team would be on an eight-day visit to dairy units starting October 29. Following the visit, certification for the Indian diary units could be provided by Moscow within a month. We will soon go for certification of our dairy plants by the Russian authorities and expect to resume export of dairy products such as butter, cheese and milk powder by December, an official with the animal husbandry department said.

The Russia delegation's visit to India follows a commerce ministry delegation's visit to Moscow last month to discuss modalities of resuming export of meat and dairy from India.

Russia is among the many countries that had put a ban on import of meat and poultry products from India due to occurrence of foot and mouth disease years ago. While other countries lifted the ban, Russia continued with the restriction.

Dairy products exports from India have jumped from R289 crore in 2011-12 to R3,318 crore in 2013-14. At present, India has been exporting items such as grapes, cucumber, gherkins, fresh and processed vegetables and guargum to Russia. The value of agricultural food product exports to Russia has increased from R601 crore in 2011-12 to R1,174 crore in 2013-14.

India is the worlds largest producer of milk, and a top exporter of meat and seafood products, but exports to Russia are negligible. In September, Russia had imposed a one-year ban on imports of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports from the US, EU, Australia, Canada and other countries that have imposed sanctions on it because of its alleged involvement in the Ukraine crisis. The EU alone is likely to lose $16 billion annually on account of the ban.

Officials at Agricultural and Processed Food Exports Development Authority said concerted efforts to eliminate diseases such as rinderpest and foot and mouth disease have borne fruit, with a sharp increase in export of meat products, including buffalo meat, from India.