Share of farm goods dips to 15% of India's total exports

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Wed Dec 22 06:41:18 MST 1999



DEC 20 1999
The Economic Times Online
Share of farm goods dips to 15% of total exports
Radhika Singh
NEW DELHI 19 DECEMBER
THE share of agricultural exports in India’s total exports has steadily been
declining over the last three years. This is despite the government's claim
that a push is to be given to agricultural exports to enable India to
compete in the international market in the post-WTO free trade regime.
The total agricultural exports have declined from 17.96 per cent of national
exports in 1996-97 to 15.93 per cent in 1997-98 and further down to 14.57
per cent in 1998-99.
What's worse, exports of marine products, poultry and dairy products as also
fruits and vegetables from India have taken a beating with the share
of exports both in quantity
and value terms dropping in 1998-99 compared to that of 1997-98. India is
among the top three producers of all these products.
Interestingly, during the same period, the share of agricultural imports in
total imports has increased.
Agricultural imports that were down to 4.03 per cent in 1996-97 went up to
4.63 per cent in 1997-98 and still further up to 6.44 per cent in the last
financial year.
While import of foodgrains went down, the import bill increased on account
of sugar and edible oil imports in 1998-99.
The value of marine product exports has come down to Rs 4,367.96 crore out
of the total national exports valued at Rs 1,41,603.5 crore in 1998-99. This
is as against Rs 4,486.7 crore in 1997-99 for marine products out of a total
export earning of Rs 1,30,110.64 crore.
Similarly, poultry and dairy product exports were valued at a low Rs 98.96
crore in the last financial year over Rs 118 crore in 1997-98. The only
minor increase happened is in the export of processed vegetables and fruit
juices.
Share of agricultural exports rose to 17.96 per cent in 1996-97 after going
up from 13.37 per cent in 1994-95 to 16.45 per cent in 1995-96 per cent of
the total exports.
In fact, in 1996-97 from the time India started freeing agricultural
products from quantitative restrictions, things were looking good for the
country as exports were on the rise. The United Front government at the time
decided to target agricultural export earnings at 30 per cent of the total
exports for the country. But that figure was never realised. In fact,
agricultural exports have been on the decline since then.
Agricultural economists have said that it is in India's interest to go for
liberalisation of agricultural commodities and at the same time give
agricultural exports a major thrust. Rice (basmati and non-basmati), marine
products and poultry and dairy are some of the export areas where India can
score well and bring in valuable forex for the exchequer.

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