From Farm to Global Table: India’s Agri-Exports on the Path to $100 Billion
India’s agriculture sector, serving as a fundamental source of livelihood for a substantial portion of its population, holds a significant position in the nation’s economy. The country stands among the world’s leading producers of various agricultural and food products, ranging from milk, pulses, and jute to rice, wheat, sugarcane, vegetables, fruit, and cotton. With ambitious goals, the Indian government aims to double agriculture exports to $100 billion by 2030, with the sector already surpassing $50 billion in exports by January 2024, despite restrictions on key commodities like rice, wheat, and sugar. These export constraints may impact revenues by around $4-5 billion in the current fiscal year.
India’s agriculture prowess extends to Geographical Indications (GIs) and the One District One Product (ODOP) initiative, where numerous food and agri products have received GIs tags, emphasizing their unique regional qualities. Segments such as ready-to-eat foods are identified as having considerable growth potential, aligning with changing consumer preferences for convenience. In 2023, major agricultural exports encompassed marine products, non-basmati rice, sugar, basmati rice, and spices, collectively contributing over half of the total agricultural exports.
Key importers of India’s agricultural products include the USA, China, Bangladesh, UAE, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. India’s National Agriculture Policy, geared toward achieving over 4% annual growth in the sector, introduced initiatives like the Agriculture Accelerator Fund to support agri-startups. Challenges include the dominance of smallholders, export restrictions impacting domestic prices, and the need for a shift from traditional farming to modern practices.
Opportunities lie in the growing demand for organic food, adoption of technology, and investment in natural agriculture. Agri Export Zones have been instituted to promote specific agricultural commodities through infrastructure development and technology adoption. The adoption of digital technologies and robotics in agriculture, including farm management software and automated tasks like planting and harvesting, is enhancing efficiency and reducing costs. Various government schemes, such as the Agriculture and Processed Foods Export Promotion Scheme, aim to facilitate and promote agricultural exports.
As India’s agricultural sector gradually shifts to horticulture and livestock production, there is a notable focus on export competitiveness in specialized products. Challenges and opportunities underscore the need for strategic policies and sustainable practices to ensure growth and competitiveness in the global market.