Export curbs on farm products: Consensus eludes ministries on ‘sensitive items’ list

Doing away with export restrictions on most farm products — as proposed in the agriculture export policy approved by the Union Cabinet recently — has hit a hurdle with many Ministries and Departments wanting the restrictions to continue on items such as onion, sugar and tomato.
The agriculture export policy suggested banning export restrictions on all farm products barring a small list of sensitive items necessary for food security. The idea was to keep the list very small. However, in the inter-ministerial discussions to identify such items, there is a clamour for continuing restrictions on most items, a government official told BusinessLine.
Buyers affected
The policy, announced in December 2018, envisages doubling farmers’ income and agriculture exports by 2022 through measures such as creating adequate infrastructure and removing export restrictions. India’s farm exports in 2018-19 are likely to be about $37 billion compared with $30 billion last year, as per government estimates.
Export restrictions, including minimum export prices and temporary export bans, are imposed on farm products from time to time by the government to shield domestic consumers from price increases. But export restrictions also hit buyers and shake their confidence and hence the policy proposed that they be done away with and only some essential items be allowed to continue with the measures after due inter-ministerial consultations, the official said.

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