Won’t a farmer earn more if his Alphonso is sold in New York: Paban Kumar Borthakur, Chairman, APEDA

Economy


Paban Kumar Borthakur, chairman of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), argues how better market access in developed nations will help increase farmers’ earnings. Edited excerpts from an interview:

How will exports help double farmers’ income?

If any product is exported, domestic price automatically increases. After all, there will be no glut. It directly benefits the farmers. Secondly, if a product is exported, say, to a developed nation, it fetches higher prices. A part of the benefit goes to the farmer. There will always be a big price difference between Alphonso mangoes sold in New York and Mumbai. Won’t the farmer earn more if his Alphonso is sold in New York?

Which are the new products where there’s scope for upscale?

Our main agri exports include rice — both basmati and non-basmati – and buffalo meat. But products such as grapes, mangoes, peanuts etc are fast picking up. We are going to give a major thrust to export chilli, moringa, lemon, pineapple etc. Moringa, for example, has a huge demand in European nations. And the demand is more for value-additions — moringa paste, moringa powder, moringa solution, moringa energy drinks, etc. Value addition brings in more earnings.

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Rice, which is one of main export items from India, is a water-guzzling crop. Won’t the ‘save water’ campaign hit rice production and exports?

This is under the purview of the Ministry of Agriculture. Yes, rice consumes more water, but it depends on where it’s being grown. There are many parts of India where there is an abundance of water. The problem arises because we have not been able to retain excess water. Here, new technologies must play a role. Israel, for example, is producing rice using the least amount of water. How? It’s all about technology.

Isn’t the lack of coordination among various central agencies plus state governments a major bottleneck?

We are now preparing agri-export action plans for each state. Some states such as Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala and Maharashtra have already okayed our drafts. In each plan, we have identified thrust areas and also the role of each agency.



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