In a bid to boost the export of seeds and sorghum products, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT) in association with Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) organised consultative meeting at its headquarter in Hyderabad.
Speaking on the occasion, Pocharam Srinivas Reddy, Minister for Agriculture, Cooperation and Horticulture, Telangana, said, “The Government of Telangana is committed to encourage the setting up of a Seed Export Accelerator (SEP) and Sorghum Export Development Platform (SEDP). These initiatives will help farmers have greater access to quality seeds and will also improve their financial condition.”
The consultation was aimed at developing a strategy to enhance the export marketability of sorghum, sorghum products and seeds from India through public-private-partnership (PPP) mode.
“The export of sorghum and seeds will increase the income of smallholder farmers,” the minister said, while underlining his Government’s aim to transform Telangana into the Seed Bowl of India.
Underscoring sorghum’s importance for smallholder farmers and its potential for better returns and profits, Jayesh Ranjan, Commissioner, Industries, Telangana, highlighted the Government’s support to the food processing sector in terms of renewed sectoral policies, incentives, new industrial parks, and improved R&D. “It is important that we link sorghum for industrial uses and create linkages between markets and farmers. The Telangana Government’s industrial policy will include the setting up of food processing parks in Nizamabad, Khammam, Medak and Ranga Reddy districts of Telangana to boost the food processing scenario,” he emphasised.
Elucidating on the meagre export of sorghum products compared to grains, RK Boyal, Director, APEDA, stressed on the need to work on strategies that contribute to increasing the export of value-added sorghum products so that smallholder farmers may derive good returns.
Supporting this view and reiterating ICRISAT’s commitment to farmers in the dryland tropics, Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, said, “We want to create economic opportunities and increase the nutritional status of the farmers of Telangana; both will be achieved through this new initiative.”
The meeting identified gaps and addressed the need to enhance the export market of sorghum, sorghum products and seeds with the help of agri-platforms led by agricultural institutions and agencies promoting exports. It also helped in mapping the challenges and opportunities of all stakeholders in improving exports.
The panel discussions during the consultations centred around export opportunities for sorghum food products, commodity trading, sorghum-based feed industry, sorghum consumer and industrial products technology, export market challenges and opportunities, and market development of new seeds, among other issues.
A strategy was developed to set up a Sorghum Export Development Platform (SEDP) to promote the export of sorghum and sorghum products with the support of APEDA, Indian Institute of Millet Research (IIMR), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Government of Telangana. A Seed Export Accelerator is proposed to be set up by ICRISAT; other CGIAR centers – International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT); and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) centres like IIMR, with support from the Government of Telangana.
The Seed Export Accelerator will work with Farmer Producer Organisations, multinational corporations, and small and medium enterprises to provide key services such as access to new hybrids/varieties of seeds, market and policy information, export market linkages, financial assistance and quality control; enable the strengthening of Seeds Export Promotion Zones; and establish testing and certification facilities in conformity with international standards.
The consultative meeting was attended by over 100 participants from the public and private sectors, exporters, experts from R&D organisations, government officials and representatives from the seed industry – Pioneer, Bioseed, Ganga Kaveri Seeds – and food processing industry.