Special Correspondent

Global meltdown and recession cited as reasons

Centre working on some concessions for the sector

Ban on export of rice and wheat also impacts

NEW DELHI: The global economic meltdown and recession are likely to take a toll of the country’s agricultural and processed food products exports as their growth is likely to dip by more than 20 per cent this fiscal from the 46 per cent recorded in the previous year.

Official sources said that export orders had gone down drastically and no new orders were forthcoming, making things difficult. In 2007-08, India’s overall export growth was 46 per cent and the volume exported stood at Rs. 36,000 crore. But the continued pressure on exports has made it difficult to achieve this target this year. On Friday, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) Director S. Dave had also confirmed that exports were on the decline. APEDA, which promotes exports of agricultural and allied industries, is part of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Worried over the shrinking exports and the declining trading volumes, the Government is trying to work out some kind of concessions for this sector in order to keep the momentum and generate employment. But all this is likely to come only after the new Government at the Centre takes office after the general elections in May. Annual export growth rate has been between 36 per cent and 50 per cent over the past 2-3 years but this is set to decline.

The decline in exports in this sector, officials said, could also be attributed to the ban on export of rice and wheat. About 25 per cent of India’s exports are to the U.S. and Europe while the Middle East, South Asia and other smaller markets constitute the rest. India has also seen a growth in its export of value-added products and processed foods like ready-to-eat meals and fruit juices.

“India has seen a 4-5 per cent growth in export of processed and value-added products in the past 3-4 years. This is mainly because our quality of processed food has been improving and the cost of production in developed countries has gone up,” a senior official said.