Indian Government’s Ambitious Plan: Capturing 10% of $405 Billion Agri-Exports Market

The government is gearing up to unveil a comprehensive five-year action plan aimed at capturing 10% of the $405 billion global exports market for 20 key agricultural products, including mangoes, bananas, ghee, buffalo meat, and alcoholic beverages, officials familiar with the matter revealed. 

India’s current market share in these items stands at a modest 2.3%, amounting to $9.04 billion, according to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). 

The plan, which is part of the government’s ambition to propel India to become the world’s third-largest economy, is slated to be introduced following the general elections, reveal officials aware of the matter. 

The initiative is envisioned to significantly augment farmers’ income without compromising the nation’s food security, given that the selected items do not include regulated commodities such as rice and wheat.

Agricultural exports witnessed a downturn of 5-6% year-on-year in 2023-24, primarily attributed to export restrictions on regulated products like non-basmati rice, wheat, maize, onions, and tomatoes, aimed at maintaining sufficient domestic supply and curbing inflation. 

India’s rice exports in 2023-24 fall by 6.5% to $10.41 billion in the year to March compared to $11.14 billion in the preceding financial year. Exports of other cereals saw a sharp 57% annualised fall to $518 million.

To counter this decline and prevent farmers from facing oversupply issues, the commerce ministry along with APEDA  is strategizing to swiftly export surplus quantities of regulated goods such as onions and potatoes.

Rajesh Agarwal, additional secretary in the Department of Commerce, affirmed the development, emphasizing a “whole-of-government approach” in formulating the plan, with inputs from relevant ministries and state governments. Agarwal underscored the necessity of agricultural exports in bolstering farm income, particularly amidst challenging global circumstances such as the Red Sea crisis and the conflict in Ukraine, which adversely impacted India’s agricultural GDP growth.

It’s is to be noted that India’s agricultural GDP grew by only 0.7% in 2023-24, down from 4.7% in 2022-23, as global headwinds such as the Red Sea crisis and Ukraine conflict hit exports, according to APEDA. The state-run agency, which is responsible for only 52% of India’s overall agri exports, saw 6.85% fall in outbound shipments at $22.4 billion in April-February 2023-24 compared to $24 billion in the same period of 2022-23.

The identified 20 products with substantial export potential encompass a diverse range, including fruits like grapes, pomegranates, and watermelons, as well as vegetables like onions, garlic, and capsicums. APEDA Chairman Abhishek Dev highlighted the lucrative export prospects of these items in various countries, including the US, Malaysia, Canada, Russia, and several European nations.

In a bid to streamline logistics while maintaining quality of fruits and vegetables during transport, APEDA is working on sea protocols for individual items such as pineapple, mangoes, oranges, bananas, pomegranates and other fruits and vegetables. Transportation via sea routes, instead of air transport, would not only be cheaper, but also give advantage of quantity and enhance competitiveness of Indian products, Dev said.

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