AGRI EXPORT ZONES GET GOING
Date : 07 Jan 2002
Location : New Delhi
The government has so far sanctioned 10 Agri Export Zones (AEZs) which are being set up in various states with an estimated investment of more than Rs.200 crore. Out of the total investment, around Rs.80 crore will flow from various central government agencies like the Agriculture & Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA), National Horticulture Board, Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Food Processing Industries. It is estimated that these Agri Export Zones will generate exports of around Rs.1700 crore over the next 5 years, besides generating a substantial amount of direct and indirect employment. While introducing the Agri Export Zones concept in the Exim Policy announced on 31st March, 2001, Shri Murasoli Maran, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, had said that these zones would be part of the effort to provide improved access for India’s agricultural & allied products in the international market with a view to providing remunerative returns to the farming community in a sustained manner. In view of the popularity of the scheme, proposals with regard to setting up of similar Agri Export Zones are being considered by a large number of states and it is expected that 10 more AEZs will be set up during the financial current year. The 10 AEZs already sanctioned include those for pineapple in West Bengal; litchi in Uttaranchal; gherkins in Karnataka; vegetables in Punjab; mangoes and potatoes in Uttar Pradesh; grapes & wines in Maharashtra; flowers in Tamil Nadu; and potatoes in Punjab.
The emphasis in all the Agri Export Zones is on convergence. Thus, the objective is to utilise the on going schemes of various Central and State Government Agencies in a co-ordinated manner to cover the entire value chain from farm to the consumer. In all the projects, necessary commitments have been given by the State Governments and the Central Government Agencies have also agreed to the project in principle. Detailed scheduling of each action point has been worked out.
The concept of Agri Export Zone attempts to take a comprehensive look at a particular produce/products located in a contiguous area for the purpose of developing and sourcing the raw materials, their processing/packaging, leading to final exports. Thus, the entire effort is centered around a cluster approach of identifying the potential products, the geographical region in which these are grown and adopting an end to end approach of integrating the entire process, right from the stage of production till it reaches the market. The anticipated benefit to accrue as a consequence of setting up of such zones are as follows: (i) Strengthening of backward linkages with a market oriented approach; (ii) Product acceptability and its competitiveness abroad as well as in the domestic market; (iii) Value addition to basic agricultural produce; (iv) Bring down cost of production through economy of scale; (v) Better price for agricultural produce; (vi) Improvement in product quality and packaging; (vii) Promote trade-related research and development; and (viii) Increase employment opportunities.
Agricultural and Processed Food Products Development Authority (APEDA) was appointed as the nodal agency by the Central Government to promote setting up of Agri Export Zone.
A lot of headway has already been made in the first six Agri Export Zones that were sanctioned. After the signing of MOU’s between the representative bodies of the Central and State Governments, it is expected that export of potatoes will commence from Punjab and Uttar Pradesh from January 2002 itself. The export of litchi from Uttaranchal will commence from the next season, i.e., June 2002, as necessary preparations are already under way. Similarly, in case of West Bengal, the State Government is in the process of finalising the names of entrepreneurs with whom the MOU’s will be signed soon. In view of the nature of the project, export from this green field Agri Export Zone is likely to commence in the year 2003. However, in case of Agri Export Zones for mangoes in Uttar Pradesh, the exports are likely to commence during the next season, as the necessary ground work is already under way and it is expected that the pack houses would come up before the commencement of the season. An over-all marketing strategy has already been worked out for promoting export of mangoes in specific destinations. Gherkins from Karnataka and vegetables from Punjab are already been exported but this process is being further strengthened through a variety of interventions under Agri Export Zones.