India's agro exports rise 23 percent

Friday, 24 January 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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India's agricultural and processed food exports rose a healthy 23 percent during April-October 2002, pushed mainly by a greater demand for non-basmati rice, meat and meat products.

NEW DELHI: "During the seven month period, exports of products handled by us reached 66.25 billion as compared to 53.81 billion worth in the same period in 2001, helped mainly by a major increase in non-basmati rice exports and meat," Anil Swarup, chairman of the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) told IANS.

"We were able to achieve greater penetration in our existing markets for buffalo meat in countries like the UAR, Jordan and Egypt. In the case of non-basmati rice, exporters have been able to sell more in markets like Malaysia, the Philippines, Bangladesh and some African countries," said Swarup.

Export of non-basmati rice rose by 141 percent to 13.84 billion against 5.74 billion during April-October 2001.

APEDA does not directly handle exports of India's prized aromatic long-grained basmati rice, though it helps exporters to promote it in existing and new markets.

In the case of meat and meat products, there was a 32 percent increase to 8.25 billion from 6.27 billion in the corresponding period in the previous year.

Despite widespread drought in India following the failure of the monsoon last year, export of fresh fruit increased 12.5 percent from 1.98 billion to 2.23 billion while fresh vegetables rose from 3.11 billion to 3.40 billion, an increase of nine percent.

By setting up a warehouse in the Netherlands for storing floriculture exports before auctions helped India realise a much better value for its prized blooms. During April-October, floriculture exports rose 59 percent from 680 million worth in 2001 to 1.04 billion.

On the negative side, the drought and increased domestic demand took its toll on exports of dairy products, which slipped from 1.14 billion in 2001 to 790 million in the first seven months of 2002-03 fiscal.

"We also did not do well in the exports of guar gum, mainly due to drought, which also impacted our groundnut production and overseas trade. In the case of groundnut the continuing problem of aflatoxin, a fungi contamination, is continuing to hinder exports to the European Union," said Swarup.

Guar gum derived from the cluster bean, a native to India, is used both as a vegetable and a livestock feed. It is also used as a thickener and emulsifier in commercial food processing.

A state-owned body for promotion of agriculture and processed food products, APEDA is set to exceed its target of 15 percent growth in exports.

"In fact, we hope to achieve between 20-25 percent growth during 2002-03 fiscal. For the next fiscal we would be in a position to set a much higher target given that as many as 25 of the 41 agriculture export zones (AEZ) sanctioned have become operational," said Swarup.

One of the biggest producers of fruit and vegetables, India is trying to boost the food processing sector to reduce post harvest waste from current high levels of around 30 percent.
Source: IANS

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