India is working towards building sea protocols for several fresh fruits and vegetables such as bananas, mangoes, pomegranates, and jackfruit to boost their exports via ocean routes, a government official said on Tuesday.
Commenting about the protocols, Additional Secretary, of Commerce Ministry, Rajesh Agrawal, explained that the majority of the exports are done through air routes owing to lower volumes and different ripening periods, reported PTI. The protocol includes understanding voyage time, scientifically understanding the ripening of these commodities, their harvest time, and the training of farmers. These protocols will vary for different products.
Agrawal also stated that shipments via sea route have two benefits in the form of cost and volume. “The exercise would help boost exports of fruits and vegetables as shipments through air cargo have a positive impact on the price competitiveness of these commodities. So far, we are 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 agri products. Now, we have started developing sea protocols,” he said.
The majority of the agri exports in India use air cargo and due to high freights, it lowers the competitiveness of these products and this is the major challenge these exports face, Agrawal said.
“To start with, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), along with other stakeholders, has developed these protocols for bananas. We did dummy testing in a container, and now, for actual testing, the first container has been shipped to Rotterdam, the Netherlands. We are confident that it will be successful, and once this is done and importers start accepting it, the volumes will increase in a substantial way,” the official explained about the protocols.
The commerce ministry official stated that the importing countries will need to accept these shipments. A boost in exports of fresh fruits and vegetables can help boost agri exports when India has recently curbed exports of non-basmati white rice and wheat. Regarding the trial shipment of bananas, APEDA has brought in the ICAR- Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture (CISH), Lucknow to help with the technical assistance in the project. At the same time, Inl Farms has collaborated with Del Monte for marketing and distribution in Europe and Maersk for logistics.
Notably, India stands as the largest banana producer in the world and contributes to 26.45 per cent of the global banana production at 35.36 million metric tonnes. However, the country’s export share in bananas stands at a mere one per cent. Mango exports during the April to August period in the year jumped 19 per cent to $47.98 million.