Three-day seminar on the prospects of India’s agriculture export in 2025: opportunities, challenges and roadmap was inaugurated in New Delhi on 6 July 2011 by Secretary Commerce, Rahul Khullar. The seminar was organised by Centre for WTO studies and was held at Indian Institue of Foreign Trade. The inaugural function was also attended by Rajeev Kher Additional Secretary and J.S Deepak Joint Secretary from the Department of Commerce.
The main objective of the seminar was to discuss various issues related to agriculture sector (especially constraints to agriculture exports) and draw a roadmap in order to make India not only self-sufficient in agriculture production but also generate export surplus in agriculture.
Khullar during his address mentioned that traditional agriculture suffered primarily due to the production constraints, which in turn was an obstacle in agri exports. He opined that agriculture has to be competitive. Lack of research and development, inadequate infrastructure, lack of commercial agriculture, small land holdings, etc serve as a constraint and there is a strong case for agriculture reforms. During his address he also stated that global trade in agriculture is most distressed and pressure is likely to stay on agri commodity prices.
Other speakers of the seminar noted that, various issues related to Indian agriculture like the impact of economic reforms, trade liberalization and commitments under World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Indian agriculture were debated in the recent past. Trade liberalisation under WTO, they observed created both challenges and opportunities for the Indian agriculture sector.
The liberalisation of the Indian economy during the early nineties gave hope to the agricultural sector that the opening up of the economy would facilitate in removing discrimination against agriculture. It was expected that India would benefit by signing the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) due to the comparative advantage in the production of agriculture commodities in early nineties. The speakers however pointed out that the outcome of Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) has not been as beneficial to India as was expected due to external and internal factors. Numerous distortions and market access barriers in the developed countries adversely affected Indian agriculture exports. On the domestic front, vast opportunities to harness agricultural potenial still remain to be tapped for achieving higher agriucltural growth.
The Food Distribution and Consumer Affairs Ministry during the seminar moved a proposal to export 2 million tonne of wheat and 1 million tonnes non-basmati rice. Export of wheat and non-basmati rice has been banned since February 2007 and April 2008, respectively in the backdrop of high food inflation.