By Prabhudatta Mishra
The government has appointed agriculture counsellors in 10 countries, including the US and China, to boost India’s agricultural exports, given the plan to double these to $60 billion by 2022. These countries have been selected based on their current level of imports from India — all of them are among the top five destinations in one or more agri products under 37 categories identified for export push.
“Now, the ministry of external affairs has designated one officer each in 10 selected missions as agriculture counsellor. The next action would be to send experts to those places,” a senior government official said. Based on performance evaluation, more countries, particularly in Europe, will be included under this programme, the official added.
Vietnam, the US, UAE, Bangladesh, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, Malaysia and Japan are the destinations where one officer in Indian embassy will exclusively deal with promoting the country’s agricultural exports. In 2018-19, UAE was among the top five buyers of India’s agri products in 19 categories, according to data maintained by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda).
Vietnam was India’s top export destination in buffalo meat having over 47% share in the country’s total export of this product valued at $3.6 billion in 2018-19. It was also one of the top buyers in groundnut, maize and poultry products. Similarly, the US was among top five countries in India’s exports of floriculture, cucumber and gherkins, guargum, honey, cocoa products, fruits and vegetable seeds, walnut, processed fruits, juices and nuts, pulses, jaggery and confectionery and mango.
China is the second biggest country to buy Indian guargum, after the US. In other products, China’s current share is not that much, but an agriculture counsellor in Beijing will help India to expand the market there, officials said.
India’s agriculture products exports (37 categories under Apeda) were $18.7 billion in 2018-19, same as in the previous year. After high-growth in the previous years, the export growth has fallen in recent years.
According to the Agriculture Export Policy, 2018, approved by the Cabinet last year, the government’s initial target is to double the shipments to $60 billion by 2022 and take it further to $100 billion in the next few years with a stable trade policy regime. After that, the Ashok Dalwai committee on doubling of farmers’ income had recommended “an aggressive strategy for developing international agricultural trade with the aim to achieve the target.
The Dalwai committee had said: “Indian embassy/high commission system should include the post of Advisor (Agri-trade) to be filled by domain experts/experienced development administrators/policy makers in agriculture and allied areas, of suitable seniority. These trade experts would be tasked to monitor the market conditions in their host countries, interact with traders and exporters in India and assist in resolving their market access issues.”