Agricultural exports increased from $5.9 billion in 2001-02 to $6.7 billion in 2002-03. However, as a percentage of total merchandise exports, the share of agri-exports declined from 13.5 per cent in 2001-02 to 12.8 per cent in 2002-03. Marine products, contributing around 20 per cent of the total agri-exports, are amongst the dominant items of agri-exports in the country.
The Exim Policy of 2002-07 emphasized the importance of agricultural exports and announced the following policy measures to boost agri-exports in this era of globalization:
- Free exportability of all agricultural products except onion and Niger seed, export of which are canalized through approved agencies.
- Removal of procedural restrictions like requirement for registration, packaging and so on.
- Setting-up of Agri-export zones to enhance international market access and improve infrastructure facilities, and ensure better flow of credit.
- Assistance for reducing the marketing costs such as transportation, handling and processing of export of selected agricultural commodities.
- Financial assistance for improved packaging, strengthening of quality control mechanism and modernization of processing units.
- Arranging promotion campaigns such as buyer-seller meets and participation in important international fairs and exhibitions.
The imports of agricultural products increased to $2.8 billion in 2002-03 from $2.3 billion in 2001-02. The share of agri-imports in total merchandise imports increased from 4.5 per cent to 4.6 per cent over the same period. Edible oil, which accounts for almost two-thirds of the total agri-imports, is the single largest item of agri-imports into the country. Seeds, cuttings and bulbs manufactured by multinational companies are also imported in significant amounts.