India must increase its share in the global agricultural exports and for this it should invest in right technology and human resource development, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said in New Delhi on Tuesday.
"Agricultural exports comprise only 12 percent of our total exports," Sharma said while delivering the valedictory address at a national workshop on "Achieving Exponential Growth in Agro Exports", organised by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).
"We must work to double that and my good luck to APEDA for targeting to double (agricultural) exports to Rs.20 billion in five years," he said.
"But the global agricultural trade is worth $800 billion. We cannot be content with around 1.5 percent share of the global market and we should work to double that."
A major reason for this, he said, was the high level of wastage of the country's agricultural produce.
Stating that it was important to give focus to agro-based industries, Sharma said all that was produced in India was not consumed.
"We had constraints, absence of adequate technology, storage capacity, cold chain, food processing industries. According to estimates, around 20-25 percent of our produce is not consumed. That is a huge quantity of foodgrain," the minister said, adding that there was need for post-harvest management.
"That's where the government and the industry have to work together."
Sharma added that the quantity of perishables could be reduced by "investing in right technology, creating institutions and ensuring that we create a chain connecting villages to the agricultural producing areas".
If India could preserve 35-40 percent of its agricultural produce and process and market it properly, more money could be earned and more people gainfully employed.
"If we can export more and earn more, I think we can make an enormous contribution to global food security," the minister said.
That is why the government has set up a dedicated ministry of food processing industries, Sharma said.
"I believe that in the last five years, some progress has been made. But efforts are required by all of us collectively," he said, adding that the government would do more to help the agricultural sector.