Export potential of agriculture-horticulture-livestock

Export potential of india’s  agriculture sector

India’s agrarian culture and diverse climate types have made significant contributions to the global food basket. Mangoes, curries, snacks, and spices from India are famous all over the world. For a quick look at some data points, India leads the production of bananas, papayas, and mangoes in the world. It is also the largest milk producer and the largest producer of spices in the world. With regard to vegetable production, India stands second worldwide and tops the list for lady’s finger.

Apart from fulfilling domestic demand, Indian agricultural and horticultural produce, as well as processed foods, are exported to more than 100 countries in the world, particularly to countries in the Middle East, SAARC countries, the EU and the U.S. In the FY 2019, exports of agricultural and processed food products totaled USD 3.59 billion.

In India, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) is mandated with the responsibility of export promotion and development of several scheduled products which range from meat and meat products, pickles, papads and chutneys, dairy products, to floriculture and its products, and even herbal and medicinal plants. In tapping India’s agricultural strengths and expanding the export potential of its food products, APEDA plays a critical role. The agri-export policy has been framed with a focus on agriculture export-oriented production, export promotion, better farmer realization and balancing out with the policies of the Government of India.

Agri-processing and agri exports attain importance as a key area especially because post-harvest losses in India are high, and range from 8-18%. The reasons include poor post-harvest management, absence of cold chain and processing facilities. Rather than allowing produce to go waste, having a well-planned export system will help cut down losses and at the same time, earn revenue for the country. Also, a farmer-centric approach is required for improved income through value addition at source itself so that losses across the value chain can be minimized.

Its share in global exports of agriculture products has increased from 1% a few years back to 2.2% in 2016. Also, with agricultural production increasing faster than growth in domestic demand, the surplus for export is experiencing higher growth. A comparative analysis of India’s 10-year exports indicates a growth of 9% between the years 2007 and 2016, faring much better than China (8%), Brazil (5.4%) and the U.S. (5.1%). During this period, exports of coffee, cereals and horticultural produce doubled, while exports of meat, fish and processed products grew between 3-5 times. And yet, Indian Agri exports are lower than countries like Thailand and Indonesia with much smaller arable land area.


Despite this leading position that Indian agri-exports has earned, its total global agricultural trade accounts for a little over 2% of world agricultural trade. The reason is the inward-looking policies that focus more on food security and price stabilization, and also because exports are in bulk, and comprise low-value and semi-processed items. Exporting its vast horticultural produce has proved difficult due to a lack of uniform quality, standardization, and its inability to curtail losses across the value chain.

The way forward 

For a successful agricultural export policy, one critical aspect would be to have a robust infrastructure with storage and processing facilities, good roads and world-class exit point infrastructure at ports to enable swift trade.  The focus should also be on promotion of value-added, indigenous and tribal products. Marketing and branding of organic products and developing uniform quality and packaging standards for organic and ethnic products can also help. Moreover, it is important to promote R & D activities for new product development for upcoming markets, like fortification of food products.  Skill development for the agri-processing and marketing and promotion of “Brand India” are the other initiatives that can catapult Indian Agri exports further. Other shifts required include improving promotional efforts – for example, Krishi Vigyan Kendras can be engaged to take export-oriented technology to farmers and creating awareness among farmers about export opportunities. Farmer Producer Organisations are yet another institutional innovation that can help smallholder farmers overcome the limitation of scale and thus extend their reach to distant markets.

Export potential of india’s  Horticulture sector

India is  second largest  producer  of  fruits and  vegetables with the  share  of  10% just after  China  (34%)  followed  by  Latin  American  and  Caribbean  (11  %).  Horticultural  sector  occupies about 8 % of India’s gross cropped area and account for 30% of agricultural gross  (GDP).  Horticulture  production  has  increased  by  about  3  percent  per  annum.  India  produces  about  6  percent  of  the  world’s  fruit  and  11  percent  of  its  vegetables.  It  is  the  world’s  largest  producer  of  mangoes,  bananas,  peas,  and  the  second‐largest  producer  of  broad range of vegetables including cabbage, ginger and okra.

consumption levels of  fruits and  vegetables in most of  the developed countries have been  witnessing  positive  growth  since  last  decade leading  them  towards  being  the  topmost  importers  of  most  of  the  fruits  and  vegetables  exported  by  India.  However,  horticulture  exports from India are not able to find place in these developed country markets which are  the global importers except for minor share.

The  concentration  of  Indian  horticulture  exports  is  majorly  in  the  developing  country  markets.  Amongst  developing  countries  also  major  markets  have  been  neighboring  destinations  wherein  the  bulk  of  Indian  produce  entering  these  markets  is  targeted  at  migrant low end worker community.

These  neighboring  countries  include  Bangladesh,  Middle  East  and  Saudi  Arabia.  Nepal  receives majority of India’s exports of cauliflower, potatoes, banana, citrus fruits other than  orange  and  lemon.  UAE  imports  more  than  60%  of  India’s  exports  of  papaya,  pineapple,  sapota, lemon and pumpkins. Other major exporting countries for India for fresh fruits and  vegetables are Malaysia, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.

It  is  because  of  this  reason  that  despite  experiencing  fairly  strong  growth  in  production,  India’s share in global horticultural trade was a mere 1.07 and 1.3 percent in case of fruits  and  vegetable  respectively  and  is  considered  minor  player  in  the  international  market.  Further,  although  India  exports  a  wide  variety  of  horticultural  products,  only  a  handful of commodities or products account  for  the bulk of  this  trade. Also  the unit value  realization of Indian FFV are far below than the than that of many competing countries for  instance  Pakistan,  Ecuador  and  China.  This  indicates  the  challenges  of  international  competitiveness in terms of tariff as well as various types of non‐tariff measures.

The European Union, Japan, and the United States use, in varying degrees, similar protection  tools:  low  but  highly  dispersed  ad  valorem  tariffs,  specific  duties,  seasonal  tariffs,  tariff  escalation, and preferential access along with  tariff‐rate quotas. However, average applied  most‐favored‐nation (MFN)  tariffs have lowered in all countries of  the Quad—Canada,  the  European Union,  Japan, and  the United States. The horticulture export products hence are  not facing high tariff barriers in the developed markets as against in the developing country  markets any more.

Under WTO  framework, trade  flows in this area is provided by the Agreement on Sanitary  and  Phytosanitary measures. The SPS Agreement establishes  a multilateral mechanism  to  protect  human,  animal,  and  plant  health  in  World  Trade  Organization  (WTO)  member  countries.  It  covers  basic  rights  and  obligations;  harmonization;  equivalency;  risk  assessments;  pest‐  or  disease‐free  areas;  transparency;  control,  inspection,  and  approval  procedures;  technical  assistance;  special  and  differential  treatment;  consultations  and  dispute settlement; administration; and implementation.

Export potential of india’s livestock sector

India has huge livestock population, in terms of trade it stands insignificant in the world trade of livestock products. However, it is to be noted that India has tremendous potential to produce and export various livestock products. The high potential of the domestic market coupled with marketing opportunities abroad due to the GATT provisions now render India to an enviable position to cater to the huge global market of livestock products, particularly dairy products. Earlier, the past trends in milk production and domestic consumption had indicated a possible exportable surplus of a modest level of 1,00,000 MTs of dairy products by the turn of the century.

There is no denying the fact that the adoption of several liberal policy measures by the Government in more recent times and the application of scientific production techniques have boosted India’s livestock production. However, the point that merits consideration is how did the structure of livestock production and exports of India changed over time and what future prospects India holds in the export trade of livestock products in the light of the rapidly changing world market conditions and in view of the various trade policy measures adopted by the various developed and developing nations.

Meat Production: India has also been showing a continuous increase in its total meat production. This is mainly because of considerable rise in non-vegetarian population over time. In India, various species of livestock such as cattle buffalo, sheep and goats, pigs and poultry birds are used for meat production.

As for the export trade of livestock products, there are also many issues that require fuller attention and discussion. For instance, is our livestock sector protected, what is its comparative advantage, what is its export potential, what are the tariff and non-tariff barriers to livestock exports, what should be the strategy for promoting export of live animals, livestock products, and livestock based manufacture.

There has been considerable increase in livestock exports of India after the late eighties, chiefly because of liberalization of trade and several trade policy changes coupled with surge in international prices of many livestock based products that gave real boost to Indian livestock exports. The upswing in livestock exports of India in due course of time has also filtered into significant increase in her share not only in Asia but also in World export trade. At the same time, for some of the livestock based commodities and for live animals, the share of India in Asia as well as in the World export trade has come down over time, e.g., bovine, sheep and goats among various live animals, and poultry meat, meat dried, salted and smoked and also canned meat among various meat and meat products.

Nevertheless, share of India in fresh, chilled and frozen meat export is noticed to have grown considerably not only in Asia but in the World too. Among various fresh, chilled and frozen meat, India’s export has grown more sharply in the case of fresh sheep meat, both in Asia and in the World trade of the same. This holds true both in quantity and value terms. Among various milk and milk products, dry milk, butter and ghee and to some extent condensed and evaporated milk export trade of India have grown significantly, both in Asia and in the World. In fact, the results of this study clearly indicate a marginal presence of India in World trade of majority of the livestock products. It is only in the case of bovine meat and also sheep and goat meat that India has shown a considerable share in the global trade of the same, particularly in quantity terms. In fact, India continues to remain as one of the leading bovine meat exporter not only in Asia but also in the World.


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