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Introduction

1.1.
Agriculture, including crop and animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry and agro processing constitutes the very basis of socio economic lives of India. It is one of the world’s largest agrarian economies, as the agriculture sector contributed about 14.5% of the country’s GDP (during 2010-11), 10.5% of the total export in 2010-11 and also provides employment to around 58% of the total work force. Agriculture also plays a critical role as it is essential to meet not only the food and nutritional security to the people and provide livelihood and income in the rural areas, but also to meet the requirement of raw material / inputs for the agro based industries in the domestic front.

1.2
The total geographic area of the country is 328.7 m ha. extended over a large range of vertical and horizontal coordinates makes it to witness a wide ariability in climatic conditions and varied range of soil characteristics. The diversified climatic and soil characteristics have helped the country in producing various types of fruits and vegetables, spices and other agricultural crops based on their suitability to the specific environment. This also gives the country opportunities to produce a wide range of varieties of a particular crop with specific characteristics and taste. India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables. Maximum production of ginger, turmeric and sesame takes place in India. India is also second largest producer of cotton in the world. However, India is still lagging behind in the productivity of many crops compared to the global scenario. A lot of effort is required for increasing the productivity, developing allied activities and building appropriate infrastructure in rural areas to be self-reliant in food and agricultural products as well as to generate surplus to facilitate more returns through export.

1.3
Government is giving lot of emphasis on agriculture sector for increasing the production and productivity of agriculture commodities for achieving an impressive growth in the agriculture front in the GDP. A number of new initiatives like Technology Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture in the North Eastern States (TMNE), National Horticulture Mission (NHM), National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Macro management in Agriculture (MMA), Rastriya Krishi Vikash Yojana (RKVY), National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF), National Project on Management of Soil Health and Fertility (NPMSHF) etc. indicate the intensive approach in this direction. The success of these programmes will definitely lead to significant rise in agriculture production at the end of XII plan. The surplus production after meeting the domestic requirement will help to promote export and will have a great impact on Indian economy.

1.4.
In a World Bank report submitted to the Agriculture Ministry, it has been highlighted that despite leading producer of fruits & vegetables in the world, India’s export is poor due to high delivery costs, fragmented supply chain and poor logistics with poor qulity standards. India’s share in global export of vegetables remained at 1.7% and that of fruits at 0.5%. The inability to compete abroad presently may lead to the inability to compete at home in future as the multinational companies will be dominating the domestic market availing quality products at competitive prices from other countries.

1.5.
Country is also lacking in appropriate technology & infrastructure in many aspects of modern storage and shipping methods, post harvest handling, value addition etc. The situation is further restricted due to complicated export regulations and procedures. An exporter faces enormous difficulties to equip himself on various parameters of export like regulatory, quality standards, global export opportunities, tariffs on exports, production scenario & vailability, present export trend etc. for developing gainful strategic approach in a competitive mode.

1.6.
In view of above, Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture (Trade Division), sanctioned a project to NAFED entitled “Market Intelligence study of selected crops having export potential” at a total cost of 82.0 lakhs. The crops for the present study have been identified on the basis of trade volumes and importance of the commodity in relation to production. The selected crops are mango, grapes, pomegranates, litchi, pineapple, banana and aonla among fruits; tomato, green chillies, okra and onion among vegetables; ginger and turmeric among spices; and sesame, soyameal and cotton among commercial crops/products.

1.7.
The emphasis in this study has been given on the compilation of information on quality standards, permissible residue limits for various pesticides and fungicides in crops being studied, information on packing requirements, present export trends, competing countries, opportunities existing for exports, present strengths, availability of infrastructure, etc. This information at one place will help in promoting export in the countries / markets of GCC, EU, ASEAN, Australia, etc.

1.8.
The study has also focused on capacity building of various stake holders in various aspects of production and export process, right from the producers to the exporters with the objective to place the country in a leading position in the global market. The ultimate objective is to establish a National database which can pool information from promotional agencies associated with export and import activities in selected countries/ markets for the access of different user agencies.