In contrast to several industry segments wherein the export has been in a downward spiral lately under the impact of pandemic, the farming sector in India registered a 23 percent increase in export from April to June as compared to the same period last year. The sector has achieved this phenomenal surge in export despite the Covid-19 induced lockdown. Majority of the farm produce exported comprises rice and sugar, contributing over 95 percent to the increase in agricultural export.
Surpassing basmati rice which usually tops the list of exported farm items in terms of value (Rs 8,591 crore) — accounting for a third of India’s agri export in the first quarter of 2020-21, non-Basmati rice contributed the highest rise of Rs 2,392 crore. Overall, India recorded an increase of Rs 4,818 crore of agri export compared to 2019 Q1. Export of refined sugar contributed an increase of Rs 1,719 crore and export of raw sugar Rs 448 crore during the period
which implies that non-basmati rice and sugar (refined and raw) together contributed Rs 4,559 crore (over 95 percent) in total increase of agri commodities export. After rice, sugar and onion, items which figured on top in percentage term increase were pigeon pea (tur), Bengal gram and raw groundnut oil. In fact, export of Basmati rice recorded minor decline while other key commodities in India’s agri export basket such as tea and soya meal reported decline of 27 percent and 14 percent, respectively, during the first quarter of current financial year compared to the corresponding period in 2019.
In the recently organized UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) 35th regional conference for Asia and the Pacific, organised by Bhutan on a virtual platform, India’s contribution to sustaining global food supply chain was acknowledged. The country’s representatives, including Union minister of state for agriculture Parshottam Rupala, spoke how the prompt measures during the lockdown period mitigated the impact of the pandemic at a time which coincided first with the peak harvest season and subsequently with fast-paced summer sowing operations during the monsoon.
Analysis of the agri export figures of April-June period shows that pigeon pea recorded highest increase of 440 percent (from Rs 15 crore last year to Rs 81 crore this year) while Bengal Gram recorded an increase of 407 percent, groundnut oil 243 percent increase and wheat 148 percent rise. As for rice (both Basmati and non-Basmati) and sugar (refined and raw), which together account for nearly 78 percent of total agri export during April-June, experts called for adoption of micro-irrigation methods to be employed for these citing the fact that these are the two biggest water-guzzling farm commodities. They also pitched for diversification towards less water-consuming nutri-cereals such as millets. (Source: TOI)