India seeks market access for sesame seeds in Japan

NEW DELHI, 27/05/2014 : Metro Plus: Melange: Sesame seeds at Navdanya in Delhi Haat in New Delhi 2014. Photo: Meeta Ahlawat  

India will seek greater market access in the Japanese market for its farm products such as sesame seeds as well as for its services professionals including nurses, when senior officials of both the countries meet on July 28 in New Delhi.

India’s Commerce Ministry will be pushing a proposal asking Japan to bring its big ‘general trading companies’ such as Itochu, Mitsui and Mitsubishi to India for bulk purchase of sesame seeds (locally known as ‘till’), official sources told The Hindu.

July 28 meeting

The July 28 meeting will be that of the (India-Japan) Joint Committee — a panel set up following the signing of the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2011. The committee’s functions include reviewing the CEPA and suggesting amendments to the pact to boost bilateral trade and investment.

The focus on sesame seeds is because Japan is the world's second largest importer of the item (after China) with annual imports of around 1.6 lakh tonnes. Sesame seeds are used in Japanese cuisine in salads, soups, snacks, candies, and for flavouring and baking. Sesame oil is used in cooking, and in manufacture of soaps, perfumes and pharmaceuticals, while sesame meal (a by-product of the oil) is used as poultry feed.

However, following the detection of pesticides and insecticides such as DDT and malathion in some sesame seeds consignments from India over two decades ago, Japan has been reluctant to import the commodity from India, according to Sanjiv Sawla, chairman, Indian Oilseeds and Produce Export Promotion Council (IOPEC). However, he said, there is no official ban in Japan on import of sesame seeds from India.

“The issue is yet to be resolved as Japan is insisting that the seeds should be pesticide and insecticide-free. We have been having regular dialogues and have even taken them to the fields where the item is grown. Now we are encouraging our farmers to use pesticides/insecticides permitted as per global norms, besides asking the farmers to shift to organic farming,” Mr. Sawla said. To convince Japan that India can be a reliable sesame seeds supplier, IOPEC has held meetings with several leading Japanese general trading companies regarding bulk purchase of sesame seeds from India, Sawla said, adding that these companies are also in touch with some of the leading Indian sesame seed exporters.

India is the world’s largest sesame seed producer with an annual production of around 7 lakh tonnes. India is also the world's largest exporter of the item. India’s sesame seeds exports in FY'15 was 3.76 lakh tonnes valued at Rs.4717.77 crore but it slipped in FY’16 to 3.28 lakh tonnes worth Rs.3011.52 crore.

Learning Japanese

On the services side, India – with a large resource pool of professional nurses — is keen to expedite the signing of a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between the Indian Nursing Council and its Japanese counterpart to ensure that Japan accepts Indian qualified nurses and certified care-workers.

As per the CEPA, it was decided that Japan will conclude negotiations with India in this regard by 2013-end, but sources said there has been a delay. Japan is learnt to be reluctant to allow Indian nurses.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 5:23:27 PM |

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