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AGRICULTURE

Maharashtra identifies six clusters for devpt of fruit and veg exports
Thursday, 07 February, 2019, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
Six export development clusters have been identified in the state of Maharashtra for grapes, mangoes, pomegranate, bananas, oranges and onions. These are among the clusters the have been identified across India for the development of exports in order to achieve the objectives of the maiden Agriculture Export Policy, announced in 2018 by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

In a bid to successfully implement the policy, commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu addressed a workshop with farmers in Pune recently, and the commerce secretary met autonomous bodies of the Department of Commerce and issued further directions.

These were among the meetings with stakeholders aimed at strategising its implementation. More such workshops with farmers, and meetings with state governments, will be held in the near future.

Emphasis has been given in the policy on processing and value addition through these workshops, and it is expected that the synergy amongst the relevant stakeholders will provide the requisite boost to achieving higher exports of high-quality agri products from India.

State governments have a very important role in implementation of the Agri Export policy, whose main objectives are to reach the farmers at the grass-root level and double their incomes to achieve the overall objective of the policy.

Current status
In India, agriculture and horticulture production is about 600 million tonne per year. About 30 per cent of fresh horticulture produce goes waste, and there is an urgent need to strengthen the supply chain to avoid the losses.

India’s agri produce should not be confined to our boundaries, and for that, international markets need to be explored. Adherence to quality standards and health standards at the production level itself have to be followed.

As a part of the policy, shrimps, meat, basmati and non-basmati rice, grapes, bananas, pomegranate, vegetables including potatoes, processed/value-added products, cashew, plant parts/medicinal herbs in value-added form, including herbal medicines, food-based nutraceuticals, aromatics, spices (such as cumin, turmeric and pepper) and ethnic and organic food have been identified as potential winning sectors. Most of these products/clusters are already aligned with this objective.

The Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) has been roped in to work on packaging standards for international markets in order to increase the demand for the identified products.

Many countries in the Middle-East are ready to invest in facilities like cold chain and warehousing in India for the import of agro and processed food products by them. 

Suggested steps for policy implementation
The agriculture sector should be seen as an industry, and all the stakeholders must work together to bring success to it. 

The steps that need to be taken to implement these include linking farmer producer organisations (FPOs) and cooperatives with farmers and exporters; providing the required infrastructure in these clusters and adoption of the latest technology in agriculture.

Industrialists can also venture into agriculture, as this will benefit farmers and will increase their earnings.
 
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