US, EU loss is Indias gain

Written by Sandip Das | Huma Siddiqui | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 15 2014, 08:22am hrs
Russia's move to ban fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports from the US, the EU, Australia and Canada in response to the sanctions imposed on it has thrown up new opportunities for India's agricultural and processed food product exports.

The commerce ministry sources told FE that India has already initiated discussion to supply buffalo meat, processed foods, diary products, fish products and vegetables to Russia to meet its domestic demand.

Sanctions on Russia have provided us with the opportunity to collaborate, said a commerce ministry official.

At present, India has been exporting items such as grapes, cucumber, gherkins, dried and preserved vegetables and guargum.

Russia has shown interest in importing buffalo meat, processed foods, diary products, fish products and vegetables from several countries including India.

Russia, however, is among the 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.

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

Rinderpest was eliminated in 1995 and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) had officially declared India free of the disease. The incidents of foot and mouth disease have been sporadic.

The buffalo meat exports from the country grew from Rs 13,745 crore in 2011-12 to Rs 26,457 crore in the last fiscal. Countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Egypt, Thailand and Saudi Arabia are the key export destinations for the buffalo meat products.

Russian president Putin had asked for limiting food imports from those countries that had imposed sanctions on Moscow for its support of rebels in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. The ban is valid for one year starting August 7.

On other hand, India has made it clear that it will not support sanctions sought to be imposed on Russia by a select group of countries led by the US.

The Indian government and businesses must cease the opportunity to export foods products besides collaborating for supplying other items, Arun Mohanty, the chairperson at Centre for Russia and Central Asia Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JUN), said.