India is working towards creating maritime protocols for several fresh fruits and vegetables such as bananas, mangoes, pomegranates and jackfruit to boost their exports through sea routes, a government official said on Tuesday.
Commenting about the protocol, Rajesh Aggarwal, additional secretary, commerce ministry, explained that most of the exports are done through air routes due to small quantities and different ripening periods, PTI reported. The protocols include understanding the travel time, scientifically understanding the ripening of these commodities, their harvest time and training of farmers. These protocols will differ for different products.
Aggarwal also said that shipment by sea route has two advantages in terms of cost and volume. “This exercise will help in promoting exports of fruits and vegetables as shipment through air cargo has a positive impact on the price competitiveness of these commodities. Till now, we have been using air routes to export these perishable goods. But now, we are trying to see how we can use the sea route to send these agricultural products. Now, we have started developing maritime protocols,” he said.
Aggarwal said that most of the agricultural exports in India use air cargo and due to high freight cost, it reduces the competitiveness of these products and this is the biggest challenge faced by these exports.
“Initially, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) in collaboration with other stakeholders has developed these protocols for bananas. We conducted dummy testing in a container, and now, for real testing, the first container has been shipped to Rotterdam, Netherlands. We are confident that it will be successful, and once it is done and importers start accepting it, the volumes will increase significantly,” the official said about the protocol.
The Commerce Ministry official said that importing countries will have to accept these shipments. While India has recently curbed exports of non-Basmati white rice and wheat, increasing exports of fresh fruits and vegetables could help boost agricultural exports. Regarding the trial shipment of bananas, APEDA has called on ICAR-Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture (CISH), Lucknow for technical assistance in the project. Meanwhile, Enel Farms has collaborated with Del Monte for marketing and distribution in Europe and with Maersk for logistics.
Notably, India is the largest banana producer in the world and contributes 26.45 percent of the global banana production of 35.36 million metric tons. However, the country’s export share in bananas is just one percent. Mango exports increased by 19 per cent to $47.98 million during the April to August period in the year.
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