India is among the world’s leading producers of sugar, spices, cereals, milk, fruits and vegetables, red meat, and seafood products. India’s export basket is a diversified mix led by rice ($9.65 billion), wheat ($2.19 billion), sugar ($4.6 billion), beef (1.5 million metric tonnes carcass weight equivalent (CWE) of beef and veal were exported from India in 2021) and other cereals ($1.08 billion); altogether exports of agricultural products (including marine and plantation products) for the year 2021-22 have crossed $50 billion, the highest level ever achieved for agriculture exports. But the country recently saw a ban on wheat exports when there was a turn in the global geopolitical situation. Given the external factors, India’s resources as well as its domestic needs, an important question that arises is how sustainable is this growth in agri-exports? Here, AgroSpectrum tries to find an answer.
Agro processing and agricultural exports are now a key trade area and it is a matter of satisfaction that India’s role in global export of agricultural products is steadily increasing. Recent growth rates show that agri-food production is rising faster and export is witnessing accelerated growth. This offers further scope and opportunity for capturing overseas markets to earn foreign exchange and enable producers to earn higher prices for farm produce. This has been made possible largely by rising global commodity prices and also by the Agriculture Export Policy of the Ministry of Commerce and its various export promotion agencies like Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), and commodity boards. Having come this far, we now need to examine how we can carve out a sustainable trajectory for agri-exports that ensures stability for all stakeholders in the ecosystem. AgroSpectrum spoke to a few experts to understand better.
Sugar export curbs
Latest data released by the sugar industry body, Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) stated that as the world’s largest producer and second biggest exporter of the sweetener, sugar exports from India have touched a record 8.6 million tonnes till May of the ongoing 2021-22 marketing year ending September. The country exported a total of 7 million tonnes of sugar in the marketing year 2020- 21, while domestic production stood at 31.19 million tonnes in the same period. This steady rise took a turn just after the centre banned wheat exports. After an intense heatwave hit output and domestic prices hit a record high, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has now placed sugar under the restricted category. The central government has banned the export of sugar effective from June 1. The curbs on sugar export will continue till October 31, 2022.
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