Commerce Minister, Suresh Prabhu,in his address at the first state level awareness programme on agriculture export policy said that in order to achieve the purpose of the policy clusters have been identified across the country for development of agriculture exports. In Maharashtra, six clusters have been identified for grapes, mango, pomegranate, banana, oranges and onion for successful implementation.Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO’s) and co-operatives should be linked with the farmers and exporters. Required infrastructure needs to be provided in these clusters and use of latest technology in agriculture has to be adopted. He also stressed on attractive packaging in order to increase the demand for the identified products. Indian Institute of Packaging has been roped in for working on packaging standards for international markets. Government of India has recently released an Agriculture Export Policy which aims at reinvigorating the entire value chain from export oriented farm production and processing to transportation, infrastructure and market access. The Agriculture Export Policy is framed with a focus on agriculture export oriented production, export promotion, better farm realization and synchronization with policies and programmes of Government of India. It is required to have a “Farmers’ Centric Approach” for improved income through value addition at source itself which will help minimize losses across the value chain.For creating awareness among the farmers, exporters and other concerned stakeholders, a first State level awareness programme on Agriculture Export Policy was organized on 2nd February, 2019 in Vaikunth Mehta National Institute of Cooperative Management (VAMNICOM), Pune.Suresh Prabhu informed that the Agriculture Export Policy has been prepared jointly with the state governments and will be implemented by the concerned state agriculture and horticulture departments.
The Minister further stated that in India, agriculture and horticulture production is around 600 million tonnes per year and 30% of fresh horticulture produces goes waste. Hence, there is an urgent need to strengthen the supply chain to avoid these losses and theproducts should not be confined only to our boundaries and we therefore need to explore international markets for exportingIndia’s agriculture produce. We have to consider the quality standards and health standards at the production level itself, the Minister said. Suresh Prabhu informed that we need to look at agriculture as another industry, for which all the stakeholders should work together for the success of sector. Industrialists must also venture into agriculture which will benefit the farmers and in turn will increase the earnings of the farmers.Suresh Prabhu informed that the Government of Saudi Arabia is ready to provide facilities like cold chain and warehousing for import of agro and processed food products to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. The Minister further stated that Indian agriculture can definitely help in increasing the GDP of the country in a big way and for thisstate governments have to play a very important role in implementation of the agriculture export policy. The main aim of the policy is to reach the farmers at grass-root level and increase their earnings for achieving the overall objective of the policy. Pasha Patel, Chairman, Maharashtra Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices, Santosh Sarangi, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Paban Kumar Borthakur, Chairman, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), S.P. Singh, Commissioner Agriculture, Government of Maharashtra also addressed the participants. Presentations were made by APEDA, Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board, Export Inspection Agency and Small Farmers' Agribusiness Consortium on the activities of their organizations. Success stories by prominent FPOs and progressive farmers were also presented during the programme.