In collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA) has taken several initiatives to make the landlocked region of Purvanchal a new destination for agro-food activities. export thanks to the development of Varanasi Agri – Export Hub (VAEH).
APEDA has identified potential districts in Uttar Pradesh to be covered by VAEH. The Purvanchal division covers the districts of Varanasi, Mirzapur, Azamgarh, Prayagraj, Gorakhpur, Basti, Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Chandauli and Sant Ravidas Nagar.
The Varanasi region, where agricultural exports were negligible due to a lack of basic infrastructure, is now teeming with activities that have boosted exports. After the intervention of APEDA, the Varanasi region recorded exemplary changes in the export scenario and recorded many unprecedented achievements in a very short time.
With the active intervention of APEDA, around 20,000 metric tons (MT) of agricultural products have been exported from the Purvanchal region in the past six months. Of these shipments, around 5,000 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables and 15,000 tonnes of grain were exported to Vietnam, the Gulf countries, Nepal and Bangladesh by all modes of transport.
Varanasi and the neighboring regions recorded an export of around 12 MT, 22 MT and 45 MT during the months of October, November and December respectively of the year 2021. In addition, around 125 MT were exported from Varanasi and neighboring regions.
As Varanasi is a territory based in the Ganges plains, it has a rich nutritional composition of the soil with a large amount of fertility which leads to the production of good quality agro-food products. Varanasi region also has reputable central and international level institutions such as Indian Vegetable Research Institute (IIVR), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Banaras Hindu University (BHU ).
Currently, the Varanasi region has a number of exporters, and agricultural products are exported by air due to the establishment of a robust quarantine as well as an airport customs clearance facilitation center. international Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBSI). APEDA organized more than 30 capacity building programs throughout the Varanasi region, followed by eight international buyer-seller meetings, which provided exporters with a platform to market their food products to the global market.
To monitor product and production, an AI technology project is also under consideration for approval. APEDA also plans to take member agricultural producer organizations to different prosperous territories to uncover the agricultural supply chain and market links.
The government is also considering replicating the Varanasi model in the Gorakhpur area in Purvanchal, as geography, demography and a few other parameters are common to both places. The newly established international airport in Kushinagar can play a vital role in triggering the export. DDU Gorakhpur University, Indian Institute of Seed Sciences, Mau are the institutions which are actively working to promote agricultural activities in the region.
APEDA also approved three projects for the comprehensive cereal and nutritional quality profiling of non-basmati rice, value-added rice products and rice-based food systems. An APEDA-funded project for integrated IT solutions to improve agricultural export in the Varanasi region is underway.
The export of the first 14 MT trial shipment of green chili peppers was facilitated by APEDA from Varanasi to Jebel Ali port in Dubai in December 2019.
For the first time, from Varanasi, 3 MT of fresh vegetables were exported to London, 3 MT of fresh mangoes to Dubai, 1.2 MT of fresh mangoes to London, 520 MT of regional rice to Qatar and 80 MT of rice region to Australia during the Covid pandemic in 2020, after the intervention of APEDA.
Meanwhile, Trisagar Farmer Producer Company Ltd, based in Sant Ravidas Nagar district, started sending shipments to the international market on a daily basis after the intervention of APEDA. In another success story, Gazipur district-based Shivansh Krishak Producer Company Ltd. with a base of 1,500 progressive farmers managed to achieve decent realization of their products after exporting a good volume of agricultural products.
Likewise, Varanasi-based FPO Jaya Seed Farmer Producer Company Ltd, which grows mangoes on about 50 acres, gets the highest price compared to the average market price after APEDA intervenes.
Before the initiative taken by APEDA, FPC sold mangoes at an average price of Rs 25 / kg, but in the last season they sold them for Rs 50 / kg to a Dutch company named Super Plum having few outlets in Bangalore and Mumbai.