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Agri export zones to be set up soon: Suresh Prabhu

The government has also drafted a new National Agriculture Export Policy for organic products.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

With an aim to boost exports internationally, the government will soon set up specific agriculture export zones in the country.

“The government has also drafted a new National Agriculture Export Policy for organic products. The commerce ministry will also set up a series of centres in states to help organic farmers sell products to international market where demand for such products is high,” said Union commerce minister Suresh Prabhu.

“India produces about 600 million tonnes of agriculture and horticulture products annually; the new agriculture policy will help to double farmers’ income and increase the share of agricultural exports from $30 billion to $60 billion by 2022. The policy will also help to check food and vegetable wastage by increasing exports and increasing food processing,” said Mr Prabhu.

“The government is also in touch with various countries including UAE and Oman to increase export of agriculture products as they need to import large quantity of food products. The ministry of commerce is also in touch with China for export of rice and pharmaceuticals and after a long gap the first consignment of rape seed will be exported to China soon,” the minister said.

“The agriculture export policy has pitched for greater involvement of states, improvement in infrastructure and logistics and promotion of research and development activities for new product development for the upcoming markets,” he added.

“More than 5,000 delegates comprising exporters, processors, retail chain industry, certification bodies and producers from India and abroad are participating in the Biofach 2018, the trade fair-cum-exhibition to discuss organic products including tea, spices, honey, basmati rice, coffee, cereals, dry fruits, vegetables, processed foods and medicinal plants,” said Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) chairman Paban K Borthakur.

“The demand for organic agri-products produced is on constant increase worldwide as organic products are grown under a system of agriculture without the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. As on 31 March 2018, total area under organic certification process (registered under National Programme for Organic Production) was 3.56 million hectares (2017-18).

“This includes 1.78 million hectares (50 per cent) cultivable area and another 1.78 million hectares (50 per cent) for wild harvest collection. Among all the states, Madhya Pradesh has covered the largest area under organic certification followed by Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. During 2016, Sikkim had achieved a remarkable distinction of converting its entire cultivable land under organic certification,” the chairman said.

“India produced around 1.70 MT (2017-18) of certified organic products which includes all varieties of food products namely oilseeds, sugarcane, cereals & millets, cotton, pulses, medicinal plants, tea, fruits, spices, dry fruits, vegetables and coffee,” he added.