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Andhra Pradesh to set irradiation facility to boost agri exports

Amaravati,  The Andhra Pradesh government would soon set up an irradiation facility at the Mallavalli Model Industrial Park in Krishna district to reduce post-harvest losses and boost agriculture exports.

The proposed facility will be the first-of-its-kind in the state with Gamma irradiation facility and a pack house that will open new markets and avenues of income for exporters and farmers alike, Agriculture Minister Kurasala Kanna Babu said here on Wednesday.

Delivering a special address at the two-day Vanijya Utsav, organised by the Union Commerce Ministry as part of the ”Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”, the Minister said food testing laboratories were also being set up to ensure compliance to domestic and international standards through quality monitoring.

Besides being an entrepreneur and risk-taker, the farmer has been a great innovator and adaptor, but often lost out in terms of trade and transactions due to several factors, most of which were related to size, scale and access to technologies, inputs and markets, the Minister noted.

“Andhra Pradesh exports a basket of processed food products to USA, Australia, New Zealand and some of the European countries, whereas these countries are moving rapidly towards irradiated food products for consumption. The upcoming irradiation facility will address this issue and help our exporters in meeting the demands of foreign countries,” Kanna Babu said.

The Minister said the food processing industry in AP has been ranked No. 1 in the country in terms of number of registered units that accounted for a 15 per cent share.

“Moving beyond mere self-sufficiency in food, we have done extremely well in horticulture, dairy, milk production and fisheries and are working towards improving post-harvest management and development of cold chain infrastructure. We now occupy the premier position in the country’s agribusiness industry,” he pointed out.

In terms of exports, AP contributed to 36 per cent of seafood and 67 per cent of shrimp from India.

“Having addressed the issues of production and productivity, we are now making the transition to profits and profitability to ensure that the farmers” incomes keep pace with those in the manufacturing and services sector. Diversification towards higher value crops and livestock remains the best way not only to improve farm incomes and accelerate growth, but also to reduce stress on natural resources which form the farmers’ production base,” Kanna Babu said.

He, however, lamented that the agriculture sector has been facing many challenges due to a shrinking land base, dwindling water resources, shortage of farm labour and increasing costs and uncertainties associated with volatility in international markets.

“The challenges are common to the region and their impact often cuts across national borders, thereby impacting trade and exports. This calls for a close cooperation among farmers, Farmers Producers Organisations and fishermen, with apex bodies like APEDA, MPEDA and EXIM Bank, Kanna Babu summed up. PTI