Hyderabad, Telangana, India (20 March 2015) – “The Government of Telangana is committed to encouraging the setting up of a Seed Export Accelerator (SEP) and Sorghum Export Development Platform (SEDP). These initiatives will help farmers have greater access to quality seeds and will also improve their financial condition,” said Mr Pocharam Srinivas Reddy, Minister for Agriculture, Cooperation and Horticulture, Telangana State.
The Minister was speaking as Chief Guest at the two-day consultative meeting on ‘Enhancing exports of sorghum and seeds from India’ organized by the ICRISAT Agri-Business Incubation Program at ICRISAT headquarters during 17-18 March 2015. The consultation was aimed at developing a strategy to enhance the export marketability of sorghum, sorghum products and seeds from India through Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode.
“The export of sorghum and seeds will improve the lot of smallholder farmers,” the Minister said, while underlining his Government’s aim to transform Telangana State into the Seed Bowl of India.
Underscoring sorghum’s importance for smallholder farmers and its potential for better returns and profits, Mr Jayesh Ranjan, Commissioner, Industries, Telangana State, highlighted the government’s support to the food processing sector in terms of renewed sectoral policies, incentives, new industrial parks, and improved R&D. “It is important that we link sorghum for industrial uses and create linkages between markets and farmers. The Telangana Government’s new industrial policy will include the setting up of food processing parks in Nizamabad, Khammam, Medak and Ranga Reddy districts of Telangana to boost the food processing scenario,” he emphasized.
Mr RK Boyal, Director, Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) while elucidating on the meager export of sorghum products compared to grain, stressed on the “need to work on strategies that contribute to increasing the export of value-added sorghum products so that smallholder farmers may derive good returns.”
Supporting this view and reiterating ICRISAT’s commitment to farmers in the dryland tropics, Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT said, “We want to create economic opportunities and increase the nutritional status of the farmers of Telangana; both will be achieved through this new initiative.” He added that the consultation workshop has benefited from expert opinions from policy makers, industry leaders, and scientists to define the path forward to enhance sorghum exports, value addition of sorghum products and potentially double seed trade of sorghum, especially from Telangana region.
The meeting identified gaps and addressed the need to enhance the export market of sorghum, sorghum products and seed with the help of agri-platforms led by agricultural institutions and agencies promoting exports. It also helped in mapping the challenges and opportunities of all stakeholders in improving exports.
The panel discussions during the consultations centered around export opportunities for sorghum food products, commodity trading, sorghum-based feed industry, sorghum consumer and industrial products technology, export market challenges and opportunities, and market development of new seeds, among other issues.
A strategy was developed to set up a Sorghum Export Development Platform (SEDP) to promote the export of sorghum and sorghum products with the support of APEDA, Indian Institute of Millet Research (IIMR), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Government of Telangana. A Seed Export Accelerator is proposed to be set up by ICRISAT; other CGIAR centers – International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center CIMMYT); and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) centers like IIMR, with support from the Government of Telangana. The Seed Export Accelerator will work with Farmer Producer Organizations, Multinational Corporations, and Small and Medium Enterprises to provide key services such as access to new hybrids/varieties of seeds, market and policy information, export market linkages, financial assistance and quality control; enable the strengthening of Seeds Export Promotion Zones; and establish testing and certification facilities in conformity with international standards.
The consultative meeting was organized by ICRISAT and APEDA. It was attended by over 100 participants from the public and private sectors, exporters, experts from R&D organizations, government officials and representatives from the seed industry (Pioneer, Bioseed, Ganga Kaveri Seeds) and food processing industry (Karachi, MTR Foods, and Frumer Marketing).