Indian agri exports to rely closely on regular monsoon to come back near $50 billion mark achieved final yr

Grape exporter Nitin Agrawal encountered some odd climate occasions this season. His vineyards in Nashik and 5 different districts in Maharashtra acquired extra rainfall in November and December, after which in January, the temperature dipped a lot that he needed to delay harvesting. Agrawal, MD of Euro Fruits, engages some 250 farmers and exports about 7,000 tonnes of grapes to the UK and Europe yearly.

He says the change in climate affected the standard of grapes, notably their style. Agrawal isn’t alone in being buffeted by uncommon climate. This yr, giant elements of the nation, primarily north, central and western India, noticed early spells of heatwaves, lowering the manufacturing of wheat, greens and fruits. Agricultural scientist and retired vice-chancellor of Punjab Agricultural College, Baldev Singh Dhillon, estimates that the unusually excessive temperatures in March and early April decreased wheat manufacturing by 5-6 quintals per hectare, which means a ten% loss in productiveness, aside from losses in horticulture. These early spells of heatwaves and an asymmetrical sample of rainfall have solid a shadow on India’s momentum on agri exports.

So as to add to that, GoI’s sudden transfer on Could 13, banning wheat exports, a measure meant to tame the spiralling meals inflation, has come as an enormous blow to exporters. With the rising demand for and worth of wheat internationally, exporters had been centered on wheat to earn some additional {dollars}. Wheat fetched $2 billion, or 4% of India’s agri-exports, final fiscal. All eyes are on the India Meteorological Division’s (IMD) stage-2 forecast of southwest monsoon (June to September) on Could 31.

In its stage-1 prediction, issued in mid-April, IMD stated there can be regular rainfall in most elements of the nation. “True, there was poor rainfall in north, western and central India in March and April. March, particularly, was very unhealthy. Within the first few days of Could, although, rainfall has improved (14.7 mm as in opposition to a traditional of 15.1 mm between Could 1 and 9),” Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director-general of meteorology, IMD, tells ET, including that the poor rainfall was primarily as a result of ineffective western disturbances passing over north and west of India. He says excessive stress (which means anticyclones, leading to heat and dry climate) in Gujarat, Rajasthan, elements of Maharashtra and central India led to an enormous heatwave.

“There was poor rainfall in north, west and central India in March and April. Within the first few days of Could, rainfall has improved. However the degree of pre-monsoon showers isn’t any indication of what might come as a monsoon. There is no such thing as a correlation between the 2””


The database of the forecaster for March and April exhibits there was good rainfall in northeast in addition to peninsular India — notably Kerala, Tamil Nadu and south Karnataka — when the remainder of India was reeling from a extreme heatwave. However Mohapatra clarifies, “The extent of pre-monsoon showers isn’t any indication of what might come as monsoon. There is no such thing as a correlation between the 2.”

A standard monsoon is the one hope for Indian farmers and agri-exporters going through uncertainties from all quarters — be it the climate gods or policymakers taking robust calls to rein in worth rise. It’s also important for India to the touch the file $50 billion mark of agri-exports, achieved in 2021-22. Final yr, rice contributed $9.65 billion, wheat $2.19 billion, sugar $4.6 billion and different cereals $1.08 billion to exports totalling $50 billion.

“Early heatwaves have impacted wheat and a few of our horticulture commodities, but India will surpass $50 billion of agri exports this yr,” a commerce ministry officer had stated earlier than GoI banned wheat exports. As soon as the export ban was introduced final week, the officer conceded that commerce ministry should revise its goal as wheat is a crucial element in India’s export basket. The Agricultural and Processed Meals Merchandise Export Growth Authority (APEDA), the apex farm export physique below the ministry of commerce and business, has not formally introduced its agri-export goal for the present yr. GoI’s export goal of farm produce final fiscal yr was $43 billion, however the nation surpassed it, clocking over $50 billion. Had the wheat ban not been imposed, GoI in all probability would have upped the goal to round $55 billion for this fiscal yr.

“The present decade (2021- 30) will see near-normal monsoon after which we are going to transfer into the moist epoch. It’s doubtless that the approaching 3-4 many years will likely be moist (excessive monsoon rainfall)”

— PULAK GUHATHAKURTA, Head, Local weather Analysis Division, IMD-Pune

With the ban in place, sustaining final yr’s degree of $50 billion can be an inexpensive goal. With the rising costs, wheat would have introduced in additional {dollars} than the $2.2 billion it reaped final fiscal yr. In April, India exported wheat value about $480 million, which is 22% of exports for all the FY22. Export figures between Could 1 and 13 usually are not but recognized. Earlier than the ban, New Delhi had set a goal of 10 million tonnes of wheat exports for 2022-23, of which just about one-third was to be shipped to Egypt, a brand new marketplace for India. Egypt, one of many greatest importers of wheat, had not too long ago introduced that it could buy the commodity from India as its general provide received hammered as a result of Russia-Ukraine battle.

The 2 warring nations used to provide 80% of wheat (valued at $2 billion in 2021) to Egypt. GoI’s wheat export ban has a number of aid clauses. For instance, the ban won’t apply to instances the place letters of credit score had been issued earlier than the notification on Could 13. In different phrases, prior commitments by personal events can be honoured. Authorities-to-government exports for assembly meals safety will likely be permitted. In the meantime, on Could 17, GoI additional diluted its earlier order, saying wherever wheat consignments had been handed over to customs for examination and had been registered into their programs on or previous to Could 13 will likely be allowed to be exported.

In a press assertion, the commerce ministry additionally knowledgeable that it has allowed an Egypt-bound wheat consignment below loading at Kandla port after it acquired a particular request from the Egyptian authorities. On the time of the notification, 17,160 tonnes of wheat to be shipped to Egypt from Kandla port, out of a full consignment of 61,500 tonnes, had been unloaded. The dilution of the order means no wheat must be returned from the port.

India’s wheat exports surged dramatically over the past couple of years. In pre-pandemic 2019-20, wheat exports fetched a mere $6 million. In 2021-22, the exports had been valued at $2 billion, a greater than 330-fold rise. Now, with wheat exports being banned barring distinctive circumstances, non-basmati rice, which was the highest foreign exchange earner amongst all agricultural commodities in 2021-22 ($6.1 bn in worth), has to step up this yr as properly.

India additionally has to extend the cargo of different merchandise which have a possible for upsizing — e.g., natural cereal, millets, choose horticulture merchandise plus some value-added gadgets — to maintain its agri-export momentum going. For many of these things, southwest monsoon is crucial. Estimates on different financial indicators, together with Gross Home Product (GDP) and inflation, will rely upon IMD’s monsoon forecast. It is going to additionally decide the course of an already unstable inventory market.


Dr Pulak Guhathakurta, head of local weather analysis division at IMD-Pune and one of many few scientists to analyse monsoon information for over 100 years, tells ET that he has noticed what he phrases multi-decadal epochal variability. For example, after 5 many years of excellent monsoon (as per decadal common for 1921- 1970), there was a dry epoch for the following half a century (1971-2020). So what does this imply for the southwest monsoon’s behaviour over the following 50 years? “The present decade (2021- 30) will likely be near-normal after which we are going to transfer into the moist epoch. It’s doubtless that the approaching three-four many years will likely be moist,” says Guhathakurta.

If we analyse the monsoon information of the final twenty years, 2002 was the worst yr, an entire drought, whereas 2019 acquired the very best monsoon rainfall. Additionally, there was regular monsoon within the final three years— 2019, 2020 and 2021— serving to India enhance its kharif manufacturing. In the meantime, throughout the peak of the Covid pandemic, many countries within the Persian Gulf and Africa stockpiled meals grain, opening a window of alternative for Indian farm exporters. A number of businesspersons struck whereas the iron was scorching.

The export of non-basmati rice, comprising 12% of whole worth of agri exports in 2021-22, is testimony to this. Nonetheless, whereas non-basmati rice exports multiplied, the export of basmati rice, a premium merchandise, slipped by 15% final yr. Exporting much less basmati (3.9 million tonnes in 2021-22) was a setback for India. Delhi’s loss is Islamabad’s acquire, as Pakistan is the one different basmati-growing nation on the planet. The issue surfaced final yr when most Center Jap nations, India’s prime basmati rice market, began following stringent norms on pesticide residue. In Europe, too, India’s share of basmati has tumbled. If India has to rebound, farmers should produce not solely extra basmati but in addition have a disciplined routine of pesticide use.



Vinod Kaul, government director of All India Rice Exporters Affiliation, says monsoon yr is indispensable for enhancing paddy cultivation in addition to for recharging water tables throughout north India, notably Punjab. Based on estimates for 2021-22, whole meals grain manufacturing in India was 316 million tonnes, a rise of 5.32 million tonnes from 2020-21.

India is the world’s second largest rice producer, subsequent solely to China. At Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, Ashutosh Sharma, an agricultural exporter and CEO of

India , is banking on a traditional rainfall. He says farmers cultivating 1,500 hectares of land in and round Vidisha are related along with his enterprise, including that their loss in wheat must be compensated with kharif crops. “There was a large dip within the productiveness of wheat in Vidisha due to the sudden heatwaves in March.

However the wheat export ban received’t influence farmers a lot as exporters and middlemen have already purchased their inventory by paying Rs50-100 greater than the MSP (minimal assist worth of the federal government is `2,015 per quintal),” says Sharma. Whereas Indian farm exporters have factored in climate and battle, the 2 recognized variables of the season, the wheat export ban is an added impediment. On high of it, excessive ocean freight charges have hit them laborious.

“Greater than the climate or the rest, we’re hit laborious by ocean freight charges. For about 15 years or so, until 2020, a 40-feet containerised cargo from Mumbai to Rotterdam (within the Netherlands) used to value us round $2,000. In 2021, it jumped to $4,000, and now it’s $8,000,” says grape exporter Agrawal. At this juncture, a traditional monsoon is indispensable for Indian farm exporters to stroll into the sunshine.
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