New Delhi: The government is seeking private investment in agricultural sector to remove infrastructure bottlenecks by developing cold chains, warehousing and transport facilities.
“We hope that the private sector would supplement the public investment in agro-exports sector, pitching in greater investments than ever before,” Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said in his meeting with the Parliamentary Consultative Committee.
The minister said infrastructure remained a major problem confronting the Indian agriculture in general and agro-exports in particular.
“There is a need to strengthen cold chain network, transportation and warehousing to ensure that wastage is minimised and the agricultural produce meets high quality standards,” an official release quoted Nath as saying.
Members at the meeting said there was an urgent need to set up recognised laboratories in the country whose certifications are accepted globally for export purposes.
The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Developments Authority (Apeda) said it would set up 12 centres across the country at a total cost of Rs 2,500 crore for handling agro-perishable exports.
The centres would come up at Chandigarh, Muzaffarpur, Agra, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai, Nasik, Pune, Nagpur, Rai Hyderabad and Dharmapuri, Apeda Chairman K.S.Money said.
Regional Quality Control Laboratories are also proposed to be set up by the Spices Board at Guntur, Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi.
Nath said the government would give a major thrust to export of organic agro-products and take up the issue of greater market access for agricultural products with other countries.
“India has a huge potential for organic farming and exports of organic agro-products will be promoted in a big way by the government,” he said.
With Indian mangoes gaining market access in Japan and the US, Nath said there was a need to further expand agro-trade to overseas markets.
He said Australia and New Zealand were yet to open their markets to Indian mangoes, while Russia was not allowing import of egg powder and meat.
“There are other commodities like gherkins and floriculture products that face certain barriers in the EU. The ministry is committed to engage with other countries and agencies to remove the current impediments to achieve higher agricultural exports to these markets,” he said.
He said increased competition from different countries such as Vietnam and Sri Lanka in tea sector necessitated the need to devise a strategy.
Agro-exports have grown 9.4% annually during 2001-06. Total agro-exports in 2005-06 stood at Rs42,362 crore.