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`India should reform services in horticulture'

Gargi Parsai

NEW DELHI: Although India is a large, low cost agricultural producer, its share in the global farm exports was "minuscule", says a World Bank Report, `From Competition At Home to Competing Abroad: A Case Study of India's Horticulture', released here on Tuesday.

India produces nearly 11 per cent of all the world's vegetables and 15 per cent of all fruits, yet its share in global exports of vegetables is only 1.7 per cent and its fruits a meagre 0.5 per cent, says the report prepared jointly by World Bank economists Aaditya Mattoo, Deepak Mishra and Ashish Narain.

The report lists three major factors that the authors feel were undermining India's potential for reaching supermarkets around the globe. These were high costs of getting produce from farm to market, the existence of a huge gap between the stringent health, safety and quality standards required by foreign governments and buyers especially in the richer countries and the weak standards and assessment mechanisms in India. The third reason enumerated in the report is "the pernicious forms of trade protection in horticulture such as those that discriminate against efficient delivery, quotas that impose harsh tariffs on imports above certain low levels and a system of special safeguards that is a source of considerable uncertainty for successful exporters".

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