PROCESSED FOOD EXPORTS TOUCH Rs.7135 CRORE
Date : 20 Feb 2001
Location : New Delhi
Exports of processed foods including agri exports have touched a record level of Rs.7135 crore during 1999-2000, with agricultural exports accounting for over 14 per cent of India's total exports during the year. Addressing the Export Award Function of the Agricultural & Processed Foods Export Development Authority (APEDA), here today, Shri Omar Abdullah, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry, noted that export of APEDA products had expanded manifold from a meagre level of Rs.2851 crore (i.e. US $ 909 million) to Rs.7135 crore (US $ 2303 million or US $ 2.3 billion) in the last 5-6 years and said: "The farmer must be made the ultimate commercial beneficiary of exports because it is his produce that is traded. I am afraid, unless that happens, we cannot make agro-exports sustainable and competitive in the Global Scenario". While complimenting the award winners, the Minister emphasised the importance of maintaining sustained growth in exports especially agro-exports, in view of its vast potential. He observed that India ranked as the second largest producer of horticultural products, but lack of infrastructure and quality awareness had hindered sustained growth of agro products. "This scenario should be changed by setting up common cold storage centres and value-added centres…and APEDA is moving in the right direction in this regard", the Minister added. In the post-QR era, Shri Abdullah said, the major criteria to decide the acceptance or otherwise of food products world wide would depend on quality parameters and hence, implementation of quality management systems by imparting training to farmers and exporters would be of vital importance particularly in the context of the WTO Agreements on Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Standards and Technical Barriers to Trade.
Shri Prabir Sengupta, Commerce Secretary, said that cold storage and cargo handling facilities for perishables had already been commissioned at Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Trivandrum, while similar facilities would be set up by the end of this year at the Mumbai airport. He underlined that the success of India's efforts in expanding its existing markets and penetrating new ones would depend upon rapid adoption of technologies for post-harvest processing and value-addition. Assuring the industry of all possible assistance in dealing with problems arising out of unfair competition or dumping, Shri Sengupta said steps would also have to be taken to enhance the competitiveness of India's exports, especially in the context of lifting of QRs from the next financial year. Almost 70 per cent of India's population depends on agriculture and this sector also provides employment to about 64 per cent of India's workforce, making agriculture a main force of the Indian economy, he said.
Shri D. Rajagopalan, Chairman, APEDA, mentioned that the rise in exports of APEDA products from Rs.298.58 crore during 1986-87 -- i.e. since the inception of APEDA in 1986 -- to Rs.7135 crore during 1999-2000 represented a cumulative growth of 2290 per cent, which was mainly due to the efforts put in by the member exporters, farmers and the back-up support provided by APEDA as well as the government in implementing various development schemes. "The time has come for India to adopt a proactive approach with value-based thinking and action with respect to sustainability in exports. India needs to control the wastage of produce to capture the advantages of open markets. There is a need to draw up a policy for attending the problems of farmers, growers and exporters for improving investment climate on modern technologies for cultivation and processing, cold chain management, creating consistency in supply, improving quality & training. The quantum of wastage demands an investment of over Rs.75,000 crore on maintaining cold chain infrastructure in the country", he said.
M/s. Allanasons Ltd., Mumbai has bagged the APEDA Golden Trophy for export promotion and product & market development. Nearly 12 companies from all over the county have bagged the Silver Trophy while 16 companies have been awarded the Bronze Trophy for excellent performance in export of agricultural and food products. Twenty-three companies were awarded the Certificates of Merit on the occasion.