India takes pole position in global food trade

There are not many lists of the feel-good variety where India ranks first, so this may come as a surprise. India’s agricultural product export growth was the highest in the world in a decade till 2013, according to a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) report. India’s agricultural exports grew by 21.3%, ahead of countries such as Indonesia, Brazil and China.

In absolute terms, exports have risen from $5 billion in 2003 to $39 billion in 2013 ($1 billion equals Rs.6,050 crore at current exchange rates). According to the USDA report, government subsidies are driving exports, especially for wheat and rice. It estimates that government support for agriculture rose from $68 billion in 2009-10 to $85 billion in 2013-14.

The report also believes that generous increases in the minimum support prices have led to higher production and accumulation of stocks. When this stock is released in the open market, it depresses prices and makes Indian agricultural exports more competitive.

The report also mentions how the government itself has been exporting wheat at prices that are below its procurement and transportation costs.
 

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