Government has initiated a dialogue with the exporters of Agri and Allied commodities to address issues affecting the sector as a fallout of the lockdown to check the COVID-19 disease. Following directions from the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar, the Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare,Sanjay Agarwal held a video conference here yesterday to gain a first- hand account of the problems being faced by the exporters of Agri and Allied commodities and initiate necessary steps by making meaningful interventions for early redressal of their problems to help them sustain though the current Covid-19 crisis. Exporters, representatives of Associations of producers/exporters of agri commodities namely, Fruits, Vegetables, Basmati and Non-basmati Rice, Seeds, Flowers, Plants, Organic produce, Agriculture Equipment and Machinery participated in the meeting.
Several common and sector specific issues were raised by the participants. The common issues highlighted by exporters of all agri commodities related to availability and movement of labour, inter-state transport bottlenecks, shortage of raw materials due to closure of Mandis, phyto-sanitary certification, closure of courier services thereby hampering movement of shipping documents, availability of freight services, access to ports/yards and clearance of goods for imports/exports.
The representatives of industries relating to food processing, spices, cashew nuts and machine & equipment (M&E) sectors requested for permission to open/operate at least on 25-30% strength and offered to commit their industries to proper health advisory in their functioning.
The issue of internal transport is being addressed by the Ministry of Home Affairs and necessary directives are being issued. Instructions have also been issued for continuous/regular issuance of phyto-sanitary certificates and acceptance of online certificates.
Agarwal said the issues pertaining to Port, Ocean freight services, Courier services will be considered for necessary resolution. The request of industry to open for functioning and sector specific issues will be taken up with the Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and resolved appropriately, he assured.
India is a net exporter of Agricultural & allied Commodities. India’s agricultural and allied exports during 2018-19 were Rs. 2.73 lakh Crores and this sector has always been positive in balance of trade. Export is very important as besides earning precious foreign exchange for the country, the agricultural exports help farmers/producers/exporters to take advantage of wider international market and increase their income. Exports have also resulted in increased production in agriculture sector by increasing area coverage and productivity.