Government initiates dialogue to resurrect agriculture sector exports amid lockdown

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New Delhi, (ANI): The central government has initiated a dialogue with exporters of agriculture and allied commodities to address the issues affecting the sector as a fallout of the nationwide lockdown, an official statement said on Tuesday.

Department of Agriculture the Secretary Sanjay Agarwal held a video conference on Monday with the exporters to gain information on the problems being faced by them so that necessary steps could be initiated for early the redressal of their problems. Exporters, representatives of associations of producers/exporters of agriculture commodities namely, fruits, vegetables, basmati and non-basmati rice, seeds, flowers, plants, organic produce, agriculture equipment and machinery participated in the meeting.

“Several common and sector-specific issues were raised by the participants. The common issues highlighted by the exporters of all agriculture commodities related to availability and movement of labour, inter-state transport bottlenecks, shortage of raw materials due to closure of mandis, phytosanitary certification, closure of courier services thereby hampering movement of shipping documents, availability of freight services, access to ports/yards and clearance of goods for imports/exports,” read the statement.

The representatives of industries relating to food processing, spices, cashew nuts and machine & equipment (M&E) sectors requested for permission to open/operate at least on 25-30 per cent strength and offered to commit their industries to proper health advisory in their functioning.

The issue of internal transport is being addressed by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the necessary directives are being issued. Instructions have also been issued for continuous/regular issuance of phytosanitary certificates and acceptance of online certificates.

“The issues pertaining to port, ocean freight services, courier services will be considered for necessary resolution. The request of industry to open for functioning and sector-specific issues will be taken up with Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and resolved appropriately,” Agarwal was quoted as saying in the statement. India’s agricultural and allied exports during 2018-19 were Rs. 2.73 lakh crores and the sector has always been positive in the balance of trade. Exports have also resulted in increased production in the agriculture sector by increasing area coverage and productivity. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced the extension of total lockdown till May 3.

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