Maharashtra’s new agri exports policy focuses on value addition, GI-tagged items, market access

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Maharashtra on Friday unveiled a new Agriculture Export Policy (AEP) in line with the Centre’s directives to states to formulate region-specific policies with a focus on promoting exports of geographical indication- (GI) certified and ‘unique’, region-specific products.

The policy focuses on developing entrepreneurs in agri exports and diversifying the export basket to boost high-value and value-added agricultural exports. It also aims at providing an institutional mechanism for pursuing market access in addition to tackling barriers and deal with sanitary and phytosanitary issues.

“Around 26 agricultural products have been granted GI tag from the state and we will be working towards boosting exports of these products,” said Sunil Pawar, managing director of the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board, which will function as the nodal agency for agri-exports promotion.

Anoop Kumar, principal secretary (cooperation and marketing), Maharashtra, said the state government will launch an aggressive marketing programme for 11 GI-tagged products through the state marketing federation to ensure premium remuneration for farmers. Maharashtra is the second-largest producer of fruits in the country with a production of 12%, and exports grapes, mangoes, pomegranates, onions and bananas.

GI registration provides exclusive right to the community concerned to promote and sell the products in world markets. Of the 417 GI certifications granted by India so far, around 150 belong to the agricultural and food sectors.

The Centre’s AEP launched in December 2018 has identified six agri export clusters in Maharashtra to promote shipment of mangoes, pomegranates, bananas, oranges, grapes and onions. The state government has identified 21 such clusters and sub-clusters which have a high potential of exports. These clusters will focus on fruits, including alphonso mangoes, kesar mangoes, pomegranates, grapes and oranges, pulses, oilseeds, jaggery, spices, dairy products, fisheries, cashews and raisins.

Maharashtra’s policy also seeks to encourage farmer producer companies to participate in exports. APEDA, MPEDA, EIC and other commodity boards will provide a framework for ownership of the supply chain, starting from farmer registrations, FPO formation, provision of quality inputs, price discovery, farmer training through technical organisation and third-party certification.

The Maharashtra export policy has pegged post-harvest losses at 5-10% for non-perishables and about 30% for perishables.

Since the AEP’s launch, 21 states and two Union Territories have finalised their state-specific action plans. In accordance with the Centre’s policy, Maharashtra has established a state-level steering committee under the chairmanship of the principal secretary, cooperation and marketing, and a cluster facilitation cell under the guidance of district collectors.

The thrust of the policy is on developing product-specific clusters in various agro-climatic zones of the country to help deal with supply side issues.

More than 41 clusters have been identified for export promotion of 18 products. Some of the clusters include Shopian (Jammu and Kashmir) and Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh) for apples, Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), Kutch (Gujarat) and Mahbubnagar (Telangana) for mangoes, Anantpur (Andhra Pradesh) and Theni (Tamil Nadu) for bananas, Nashik (Maharashtra) for grapes, Siphahijala (Tripura) for pineapples, Solapur (Maharashtra) and Chitradurga (Karnataka) for pomegranates and West Jaintia Hills (Meghalaya) for turmeric.