$6,193 mn loss, agri export ban hurting farmers

  • Wed, 19 June 2024

$6,193 mn loss, agri export ban hurting farmers

Despite a record-breaking harvest and a significant increase of nearly 14.1million tonne in foodgrain production, farmers continue to face distress, thanks to theban on the export of key agricultural commodities to contain inflation during theelections.

According to farmers, traders, food policy experts and other stakeholders, itis the ban on non-basmati rice, sugar and wheat that has led to 6.36 per cent declinein the country’s agricultural exports, bringing it to $25,016.05 million in 2023-24 from$26,717.72 million in 2022-23.Over the past three years, the export ban has resulted in a cumulative lossof $4,880 million, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.The ban has resulted in the financial loss of $6,193 million to all stakeholders in thelast fiscal alone.

Non-basmati rice exports fell sharply from $6,356 million to $4,573 million,while sugar exports decreased from $5,770 million to $2,824 million. Wheat exports,which faces a complete ban, plummeted from $1,520 million to just $56 million.The exports of cereals declined to $517 million from $1,194 million during

the period, while castor oil trade slipped to $1,071 million from $1,265 million.Despite a condition of minimum export price of $950 a tonne on basmati, its exporthas increased from $3,537 million in 2021-22 to $4,787 million in 2022-23 and$5,843 million in 2023-24.Monthly agriculture export reports indicate a further 6.79 per cent decline,with total agricultural exports dropping to Rs 22,470 crore from Rs 24,105 croreduring the same period last year.The total foodgrain production in FY2023 registered an increase of 14.1million tonnes to 329.7 million tonnes. However, the agriculture sector is projected to grow by only 1.8 per cent in FY24 — a seven-year low — due to a poor kharifharvest and weak initial sowing of rabi crops, according to the data by the NationalStatistical Office (NSO).

Experts and traders stress a pro-farmer export policy is essential to addressthe issue of declining agricultural income. Although major political parties havepromised to boost farmers’ earnings, none has emphasised the critical need tooverhaul the export policy to effectively tackle the issue.