Govt considers clearing lockdown hurdles for agri-exports revival: Agri Secy

The centre will consider addressing issues such as access to ports, freight and courier services to resurrect export of farm commodities amid the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown, Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal said on Tuesday.

Agarwal, after holding a detailed discussion with the agri-exporters through video conference, said the government will look into the suggestion on allowing the food processing industry as well as spices and cashew nuts sectors to operate with 25-30 per cent staff strength during the lockdown period.

The exporters said they were facing problems in availability and movement of labour, inter-state transport bottlenecks, shortage of raw materials due to closure of some mandis, phyto-sanitary certification, closure of courier services hampering movement of shipping documents, availability of freight services, access to ports/yards and clearance of goods for imports/exports.

After hearing the first-hand account of the problems faced by exporters, Agarwal said, “The issues pertaining to port, ocean freight services, courier services will be considered for necessary resolution.”

The industry”s request to open the functioning of food processing, spices, cashew nuts and machine and equipment sectors with 25-30 per cent staff strength will be taken up with Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, he added.

According to an official statement, the issue of internal transport is being addressed by the Ministry of Home Affairs and necessary directives are being issued.

“Instructions have also been issued for continuous/regular issuance of phyto-sanitary certificates and acceptance of online certificates,” it added.

Export is very important as besides earning precious foreign exchange for the country, the agricultural exports help farmers/producers/exporters to take advantage of a wider international market and increase their income.

Exports have also resulted in increased production in the agriculture sector by increasing area coverage and productivity.

The ministry initiated the dialogue with exporters to take steps for making meaningful interventions for early redressal of their problems to help them sustain through the current Covid-19 crisis.