India ranks second worldwide in terms of farm output, and is the largest producer of commodities like milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, major spices, select fresh meats, jute, millets and castor oil seed.
However, when it comes to the country’s presence in international markets, India is just fourteenth in terms of total export value of agri produce. In horticulture, India’s contribution to the global trade is only 1%.
“Indian agriculture possesses many comparative natural advantages,” said Assocham in a statement.
“Besides being home to around 11% of the world’s agricultural land, and the largest acreage of irrigated land, large land parcels in the country are organic by default. The availability of cheaper, skilled, technical and scientific manpower is another advantage.”
Accordingly, the chamber is recommending a series of measures needed to leverage India’s comparative advantage. These include registering geographical indictions for various agri commodities with high potential value and global demand.
Assocham has also called on the government to bring the same stability to India’s export policies as they demonstrated recently in food grains. This, the chamber said, would go a long way in boosting industry sentiment and strengthening exports consistently
“Considering production, productivity levels, domestic and international demand, and the current status of exports of India, there is immense scope in improving exports of meat, fruits and vegetables, and spices,” the statement continued.
“Sector-centric policies and supporting infrastructure will provide a fillip to exports of these high value commodities.”
India must also encourage private participation in the construction and maintenance of pre- and post-harvest infrastructure, as well as physical infrastructure like roads and highways, Assocham said.
It should also promote producer organisations to allow the aggregation of produce and increase prices for perishables for small farmers and producers, and lower input costs for processing companies.
“Assocham strongly believes in the need to focus on all links of the value chain of agri commodities so that India can make its mark in the international market.”