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After Middle East, state gears up to export vegetables to Europe, America

Aug 23, 2017

Buoyed by the overwhelming response in vegetable export to countries of the Middle East, the Mamata Banerjee government is gearing up to export the same to Europe and America. The state Food Processing & Horticulture department that had initiated the process of vegetable export to the Middle East in August last year is now working hard to augment the production and develop the necessary infrastructure for storage by working in tandem with the Agriculture, Agri-Marketing and West Bengal Agro Industries Corporation Limited.
 
The Horticulture department has been exporting vegetables like gourd, shrimp (jhinga), bitter gourds, yard long beans, ladies fingers, parval etc to countries of the Middle East from August last year. The maximum demand has been for ladies finger, yard long beans, luffa vegetables and chillies. The best variety of vegetables that are of export quality is being grown in districts of Bankura as no chemicals or pesticides are used.
 
We are identifying some virgin lands in the western part of the state popularly known as Paschimanchal for growing more vegetables. The land will be made fit for farming by minor irrigation and organic manure. Experts from academics and administrative level have been roped in for making it cultivable as well as to impart lessons on how to produce on these lands, Subhasish Batabyal, vice chairman of West Bengal Agro Industries Corporation Limited said.
 
However, sources in the Horticulture department pointed out that the government is crippled by lack of transportation facilities for the export of vegetables. 
 
Around 2.5 tonnes of vegetables are being exported per day by air to the Middle East but the demand is much more. Recently, the department has started exporting vegetables like oal or yam and pumpkin by sea route. Chillies, however, have not yet passed the standards for export. 
 
Our Chief Minister has been constantly interacting with the Union Civil Aviation Department pressing for a direct flight to Europe from the city. If our demand is met, then export will soon be a reality. Otherwise, we have to arrange for logistics to Mumbai or Delhi for export to Europe and America, an official in the Horticulture department said. We have been sending consignments of mangoes to the European Union for the last few years.
 
A senior official of the department said that the state will soon come up with a food processing policy intended to create a host of incentives for investors.
 
We are preparing a study on agri-horti-logistics infrastructure, the idea being to identify and narrow certain gaps which hinder the growth of this sector, the official added. 
 
In an effort to boost the food processing sector, the department is providing subsidy for setting up packhouses (warehouses where produce are cleaned, graded and stored temporarily) and cold storage modifications.
 
    
Source: Millennium Post



India has macroeconomic stability, strong fundamentals: FSDC

Aug 23, 2017

The Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), an apex-level body constituted by the government, on Tuesday said that India has macro-economic stability today due to a host of positive factors and reforms, including implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). 
 
The Council noted that India has macro-economic stability today on the back of improvements in its macro-economic fundamentals, structural reforms with the launch of GST, action being taken to address the Twin Balance Sheet (TBS) challenge, extraordinary financial market confidence, reflected in high and rising bond and especially stock valuations and long-term positive consequences of demonetization.
 
The seventeenth Meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was held in New Delhi on Tuesday under the Chairmanship of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. 
 
However, the members of the council agreed on the need to keep constant vigil and be in a state of preparedness of managing any external and internal vulnerabilities.
 
On the occasion, Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) made a presentation on the state of economy. 
 
The Council also took note of the progress of Financial Sector Assessment Program for India, jointly conducted by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Council directed that the assessment report should be finalized by the end of this calendar year.
 
It took note of the developments and progress made in setting up of Computer Emergency Response Team in the Financial Sector (CERT-Fin) and Financial Data Management Centre and discussed measures for time bound implementation of the institution building initiative.
 
A brief report on the activities undertaken by the FSDC Sub-Committee Chaired by Governor, RBI was placed before the FSDC. The Council also undertook a comprehensive review of the action taken by members on the decisions taken in earlier meetings of the Council.
 
The Council discussed on the Central KYC Registry (CKYCR) system, took note of the initiatives taken in this regard by the members and discussed the issues / suggestions in respect of operationalization of CKYCR.
 
The Council also deliberated on strengthening the regulation of the Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs). 
    
Source: SME Times



Vice President Naidu for increasing trade with Uzbekistan

Aug 23, 2017

Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that India and Uzbekistan should work for taking bilateral trade to one billion dollars by March 2018.
 
Naidu, who met Uzbekistan Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov in New Delhi, said the two countries have close cultural and historical connections and the people have similar developmental aspirations.
 
According to an official release, Kamilov hoped that discussions during his visit will help in identifying new areas of cooperation and take relationship to a higher level.
 
Kamilov is leading a high-level delegation on a four-day visit to India. 
 
The India-Uzbekistan relationship was elevated to that of a Strategic Partnership during the visit of then Uzbek President Islam Karimov to India in 2011. 
    
Source: SME Times



Canada allows entry of Indian pomegranate, banana & okra

Aug 23, 2017

Indian bananas, pomegranate, custard apple and okra will soon be available in Canada as the North American country has allowed their import for the first time. 
 
Canada is supportive of opening its market to us, unlike some other developed economies, said an official aware of the development. Last year, it had allowed entry to Indian grapes. Pomegranate is likely to be exported in good quantities and also fetch good prices.
 
It is expected to be a hit item there, the official said. The market for okra has been opened on demand from the large and growing Indian diaspora in Canada, the person said. The development comes in the wake of the two countries resuming negotiations for a free trade agreement in goods and services this week after a hiatus of two years with Canadian negotiators coming to India for the talks. 
 
 
This move will help create a conducive environment for the talks, said an industry expert. But more than that, it is good news for Indian consumers as it reflects improved quality of Indian farm produce, the person said. Canada increasingly opening up its market to us means that more and more of our exporters are meeting their standards.
 
Canada has allowed import of these fruits and vegetables from India subject to certain conditions. For example, the consignment should be free from soil, pests, leaves and other plant debris. Also, the origin of the material must be clearly identified on shipping documents. 
 
The official quoted earlier said Canada is not expected to import very large quantities of custard apple and banana because it would not be viable to send these comparatively faster perishable commodities to Canada through sea due to the significant distance. 
 
In 2016-17, India's agro food exports to Canada were $125.5 million, of which fresh mangoes, grapes and other fruit were $2.2 million.

 

    
Source: The Economic Times



USDA officials to meet Indian counterparts to discuss farm technology and bilateral trade in agri produce

Aug 23, 2017

Representatives of the United States department of agriculture (USDA) will meet their Indian counterparts here on August 31 to discuss a range of issues including use of technology in farm sector and ways to increase bilateral trade in agricultural and poultry produce.
 
The meeting will take place amid unease within the US establishment over India's inconsistent trade policy which, officials here believes, is detrimental to the interests of even Indian farmers who need to take decisions on the basis of stable policy.
 
High tariffs, stringent technical requirements and sudden ban on commodities are considered as challenges being faced by the US which is keen to export commodities like soyabean and poultry meat to India.
 
The trade in agricultural and related products between the two countries reached $3,214.5 million in the first half of 2017 with the export from India touching $2,224.8. Shrimp, spices, rice and processed fruits and vegetables are among the products which India export to the US.
 
The US, on the other hand, export cotton, pulses ethanol and fresh fruits among other agricultural produce. Both the countries had trade to the tune of $5,271.5 last year with India exporting farm produce worth $3,767.8 as against its import worth $1,503.7.
 
Ahead of the proposed meeting next week, a US official here on Monday said India was, in fact, not keeping pace with other countries like China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh in adopting innovative farm technologies, especially biotechnology. He pointed out that farmers in these countries too have small farm sizes like in India but they have done exceedingly well in increasing production and productivity through technological intervention.
 
He said innovative technologies, including biotechnology, are required to boost crop yields, which in India at present are much lower than neighbouring countries. Wheat yields are at 3 tonnes per hectare in India as against 5 tonnes in China. Rice yields are at 4 tonnes per hectare here while it is 7 tonnes in China and 6 tonnes in Vietnam, he added.
 
The meeting on August 31 is expected to also focus on modalities of agri data collection and its distribution among various stakeholders for taking well informed farm related decisions.
 
    
Source: Times of India



Organic exports face testing times from redundant norms

Aug 23, 2017

Exporters of organic products face a tough time getting their products tested in the country as the presence of multiple export control bodies has narrowed the choice of laboratories for them and also increased costs due to multiple-testing requirements, according to a recent study by a Delhi-based think tank.
 
While there are 112 laboratories accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) that are also approved by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), less than one-fifth are approved by export control bodies such as the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority(APEDA), Export Inspection Council, BIS and Tea Board, a report by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) on organic farming in India pointed out. The report will be released on Wednesday.
 
Hassles all the way
Since all export control bodies want the testing laboratories to register with them, it is a hassle for the laboratories, which have to spend a lot of time and money getting multiple registrations done, said Arpita Mukherjee from ICRIER.
 
APEDA, which regulates fruits and vegetables and has been implementing product traceability for products such as peanuts since last December, has just 14 laboratories listed as being competent to carry out sampling and testing of organic products against 112 laboratories accredited by NABL and FSSAI.
 
Of these, the Export Inspection Council (EIC) of India, the nodal agency for export control of food products such as pepper, milk and basmati rice, recognises just eight laboratories, while 13 laboratories are recognised by the BIS and seven laboratories are recognised by the Tea Board.
 
If food items are accredited by both the NABL and the FSSAI, all aspects of testing and food safety are covered and there should be no need for further tests. Allowing export control bodies to insist on separate registrations is what is making life difficult for exporters and should be done away with, Mukherjee said.
 
No export testing
The report pointed out that it was ironic that while 98 laboratories approved by NABL and FSSAI were eligible to test for organic product imports or items sold in the domestic market, they cannot test products for export.
 
Redundant testing
For exporters of certain items, including spices such as turmeric, the consignments have to be tested not just in an APEDA approved laboratory but also in a Spices Board of India-approved quality evaluation laboratory, despite the fact that organic is free from chemicals and/or additives, which should have come up in the APEDA approved laboratory test report itself.
 
The product is being tested in multiple laboratories, which involves time, effort and cost and is an example demonstrating why India has a low rank in the ease of doing business, the report stated.
 
In 2016-17, export of organic products from India was valued at $370 million, which was about 17.5 per cent higher than the previous year. In 2015-16, some of India’s top markets were the EU, the US, Canada, Korea and Australia.
    
Source: The Hindu Businessline



We hope to achieve export target of Rs 40k cr this year: TEA president

Aug 23, 2017

The multi-million dollar textile industry in Tirupur had to brace successive blows - Brexit, demonetisation and GST slowing down the business. But sailing through all the troubles, the industry has set an ambitious goal of achieving Rs 40,000-crore export target this year. Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA) president Raja M Shanmugam shares the challenges and opportunities for the Tirupur industrialists in the coming years with TOI's Rajasekaran RK
 
After GST, has the knitwear export sector coped up with the new tax regime?
 
The introduction of GST has hit all the industries hard. But there were no options but to fall in line. In case of the textile industry, there were certain anomalies in the GST, especially the 18% tax levied to job work. But the Union finance ministry has corrected it after hearing from the stakeholders including TEA. By reducing GST to 5%, it has come on par with that of the other areas like dyeing and compacting. Otherwise, the survival of the industry, especially knitwear manufacturing, would have been a question mark.
 
Tirupur textile units fell short of achieving their target last fiscal. Was it due to demonetisation?
Since the knitwear industry has to handle cash every week for disbursing wages, the operations were hit after demonetisation. But soon, we bounced back following other modes of transaction. The industry fell short by Rs 4,000 crore of its target of Rs 30,000 crore. But the prime reason was Brexit because the international value of Pound had fallen up to 25%.
 
There is a huge growth in domestic trade from Tirupur over the past few years. How the industry balances both the exports and domestic trade?
 
With 50% of knitwear export in the country contributed by Tirupur, the dollar city stands sixth in the international market. Export is theimportant for Tirupur. But the domestic trade has scaled five times bigger in last five years. 
 
The exponential growth happened because there was conceptual change in the demand of dresses from the conservative side in the country. Now, normal Indians needs four different dresses to complete their day.
 
The state government is proposing to introduce a textile policy. How do you think it will benefit the sector?
The government has understood its importancelately. Apart from contributing immensely to the state's economy, the textile sector has been creating more jobs, especially among the women, next to the farming industry. Many states already have such policy. More investments will flow into the state in due to the policy.
 
What are your suggestions to the government in framing the policy?
 
The government should create infrastructure needed for welfare of the labourers. Provisions for accommodation, skill enhancement and transport of labourers should be ensured through the policy. We have also suggested for setting up a Knitwear development board on the lines of Coir Board. Such a board would help to address the problems faced by the sector.
 
What is the target for this financial year?
 
We hope to achieve an export target of Rs 40,000 crore this year. There are a few challenges but we can face it.
 
    
Source: Times of India



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