The agriculture ministry is in talks with the Russian government to expedite testing and clearing of Indian dairy, fish and meat processing units for exports, a long-standing demand of Indian food processors who are keen to tap its market.

“Russia is in the process to approve several processing plants for dairy, meat and fish. This will give market access and lead to rise in exports,” said an agriculture ministry official.

According to the official, in the past one month there have been deliberations between the two countries and various ministries. Officials from food safety, agriculture and trade recently met to facilitate trade in agriculture and food processing, he said.

“We have come at a basic understanding on issues from health and veterinary, phyto sanitary measures and certification procedures etc,” said the official.

Indian exporters are looking at new markets to expand and Russia has a huge potential, said the official.

“Marine exports have seen a 25% growth in the last 3-4 years, with over 1.2 million tonnes, valued at Rs 40,000 crore, being exported in 2016-17. We are the largest exporter of shrimps to the Eurpoean Union and the US, and Russia can be the next market,” the official said.

In 2015, Russia’s federal inspection agency, Rosselkhoznadzor, had given approval to some dairy units to export after some Western nations imposed sanctions on the country for its role in the Ukraine crisis. However, no exports happened.

“Opening of Russian market for Indian dairy sector will be a good opportunity for India farmers. There is market of over 2 lakh tonnes only for cheese, which we can tap,” said Parag Milk Foods chairman Devendra Shah.

In 2016-17, India had exported 78,000 tonnes of dairy products, including casein, cheese, flavour milk and ghee, valued at Rs 1,500 crore. The sector has been growing at 10-12% annually, according to government data.

Fauzan Alavi, spokesperson for All-India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association, said Russia only wants Indian companies to comply with the animal health requirements as per OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code, and have foot-and-mouth diseasefree notification for two years from the state. “Indian manufacturing units are very modern and it will be a huge boost for units in Uttar Pradesh and Telengana if they are allowed to export,” said Alavi.

According to government data for 2016-17, over 1.2 million tonnes of bovine meat, valued at Rs 23,000 crore, was exported. The annual growth in export was 8-9%, it said.

Agribusiness Information