Five farm products that can change India’s agriculture landscape

April 14, 2013

Five farm products
Five farm products

The five products have been selected based on their crop size and relevance for consumers, growers and crop diversity

Mango, banana, potato, soybean and poultry are the five main farm products which could form the bedrock of rejuvenation in India’s agriculture and allied activities landscape in the next two decades.

This can be created by building a strong brand for these products in the international markets, reducing wastage by almost half and doubling the per hectare yields, according to the third Food and Agriculture Integrated Development Action Report titled: ‘India as an agriculture and high value food powerhouse: A new vision for 2030, prepared jointly by CII and McKinsey and Company.

The five products have been selected based on their crop size and relevance for consumers, growers and crop diversity.

The report said mango production has grown consistently at four per cent per annum since the past two decades only because of increase in area as yields have remained stagnant. To achieve a target of 37 per cent increase in per hectare yield, reducing wastage by 50 per cent in the next 20 years and increasing exports 10 times, the report said farmers should be trained to inculcate best practices to improve yield, enhance farm-gate infrastructure and also build clusters in major growing states of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar and Gujarat.

The clusters can be built with the help of cooperatives. To enhance the image of Indian mangoes worldwide a special brand should be built and export of packaged mango juice should be encouraged. A special impetus should be provided to fresh mango exports, the report said.

Though India is the world’s largest producer of bananas, its exports are minimal. It exported only 0.37 per cent of its produce in 2010, but produces almost 30 per cent of the world output, the report said. In 2010, India did not export any banana to Japan and Russia and exported just one tonne to China in 2010. However, it has immense potential.

The real potential for bananas in India is through branding both in the domestic and export market. India could increase total production by 75 per cent to about 50 million tonnes in 2030 to meet rising domestic demand and tap the export opportunity. The report also highlighted that India should aspire to have an efficient, globally competitive supply chain and aspire to export 1.5 million tonnes by 2030, which is 25 times the current export figure.

For farmers, the report said extensive tissue culture should be promoted through private participation, drip irrigation should be augmented and impetus provided for export of fresh bananas.

India’s domestic consumption of potato increased five per cent per annum for the past five years, though the per capita consumption is still about half of that of China and lags far behind most western countries.

India produced more than 40 million tonnes of potato in 2011, with more than 1.8 million hectares of area under cultivation and yields reaching 20 tonnes per hectare. There is also abundant opportunity to double the share of potato used in processing from the current seven per cent to 14 per cent or more. In addition, India could also aspire to export 1.5 million tonnes to two million tonnes of potato from the current 1.2 million tonnes, to become one of the top five potato exporters in the world, especially catering to the Asian countries.

To achieve this, the report said the scientific use of fertilizers, use of sprinkler or drip irrigation and adequate mechanisation to cut costs be adopted.

“For example, costs can be reduced by using prophylactic pesticides which prevent late blight disease in areas with low infestation rates, and cost just Rs 200 a kg, while treatment pesticides are more than 20 times more expensive. Sprinkler irrigation increases yield by 15 to 25 per cent, and drip irrigation increases yield by 30 to 40 per cent, while saving up to 40 per cent of water,” the report said. It also suggested that industry could identify, test and promote new high yielding processing varieties from the available international basket.

A successful example of branding potatoes is that of Greenvale’s Farm Fresh potatoes in the UK. Launched with the USP of better and consistent taste and freshness, the effort was a success, and Greenvale’s potatoes are now available across the UK, the report said.

This is one of the fastest growing crops in India with exceptional price realisations.  India currently exports 55 per cent of its soya meal and Indian prices are linked to global prices.

“India’s soya farmers and industry are ready to unlock an Rs 45,000 crore opportunity by 2030,” the report said. But, India’s soy industry is crippled by low yield, limited domestic demand for soymeal and inadequate irrigation facilities for crops.

The country can overcome these bottlenecks by doubling yields through mechanised sowing and harvesting, improving market access for high yielding seed varieties, and using drip irrigation in farms. The government on its part can boost consumption by promoting soya as an integral part of a high protein diet, branding soy oil for exports.

“Guaranteeing traceability and non-GM usage will ensure that India sustains 20 per cent premium over the GM soyaoils supplied by other countries,” the report said.

India is currently the third largest producer of eggs (by weight) and the sixth largest producer of chicken meat in the world. India’s broiler meat production has grown by a brisk 10 per cent and egg production by five per cent over the past 10 years. By 2030, over 40 per cent of India’s population will be urbanised and the number of working women is likely to double. This could significantly boost the market for frozen foods, including poultry products.

But, the potential is constrained by recurring incidents of disease in poultry products, no awareness on frozen foods and rising feed costs. Giving an example, the report said that in India, the frozen meat market is just five per cent of the total poultry market, while the world over this is much more. To achieve its full potential, the report suggested that government should invest in mega processing hubs, increase profitability of poor poultry farmers through back-end feed manufacturing technologies and boost market for frozen foods. Business Standard

Published: Zarai Media Team

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