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New Delhi Correspondent
The Indian cabinet on Thursday cleared the long-awaited the country’s first agriculture export policy that lifts all curbs on organic and processed food in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise to help double farmers’ income in the next four years.
However, the new policy, that aims to double the country’s farm exports to $60 billion by 2022, stops short of totally removing restrictions for all the time on export of sensitive items like cotton, onion, garlic, rice, wheat and sugar which are in heavy demand in India’s huge domestic market.
The policy, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu told reporters here on Thursday evening, gives a greater thrust to value-added products and promotion and branding of India’s produce in overseas market.
Under the new policy, export of commodities such as tea, coffee and rice will be boosted and help increase the country’s share in the trade of farm products. The new policy is also expected to provide an institutional mechanism to tackle market barriers.
Modi, addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the Independence Day, had announced that the government will soon unveil the new agricultural export policy. Prabhu said that under the new policy Rs 1,400 crore will be invested to set up develop clusters for export-oriented production of specific products.
The agriculture export policy also aims integrating Indian farmers and agricultural products with the global value chains and harness export potential of Indian agriculture, through suitable policy instruments to make India global power in agriculture.
The export policy seeks to diversify the country’s export basket, destinations and boost high-value and value added agricultural exports including focus on perishables, promote novel, indigenous, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional agro products exports, to provide an institutional mechanism for pursuing market access, tackling barriers and deal with sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues which are often raised by certain countries.
The new agriculture export policy, that has strategic and operational aspects, will also seek to woo private investment to production and processing.
At present, rice, wheat and marine products account for about 52 per cent of India’s total farm exports.
Dedicated clusters could be set up for mango, pomergranate, banana, grape, tea, coffee, turmeric and marine products among others, Prabhu said.
Above all, one of the main aims of the new farm export policy is to provide a predictable regime for Indian products because restrictions like minimum export, export duty, quantitative curbs and outright ban, which are imposed from time to time on export of cotton, garlic, onion, rice, wheat and sugar had in the past created uncertainties prompting overseas buyers to turn to India’s competitors and dented its image as a dependable supplier, officials said.
India resorted to the export restrictions whenever there is a sharp hike in the prices of farm products in domestic market.