Exports of Fruits and Vegetables from Northeast India: Prospects and Challenges

Madhuchhanda Dasgupta teaches at Women’s College, Shilong, Meghalaya; Trinankur Dey teaches at the Faculty of Management and Commerce, ICFAI University Tripura.
2 January 2024

The northeast region of India has a diverse agroclimatic condition that is conducive to the growth variety of tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate fruits and vegetables that are enriched with high nutrition and fibre content. Horticulture offers immense scope for the growth and development of the predominantly agrarian region, as it provides diversification in the farm sector that is essential for the generation of sustainable income and employment opportunities. The northeast region produces marketable surplus of many fruits and vegetables that can be traded both in the domestic and overseas markets. This article attempts to analyse the export potential of fruits and vegetables of the region and identifies the challenges that are impeding its rapid growth. The results of the study reveal that exports both in terms of volume and value have registered significant growth during the period under consideration; however, exports have been volatile, and it can be attributed to instability in the production of major export crops. The recent diversification of the export basket is an indicator of reduction in volatility and the volume of exports and earnings. This article also analyses the marketing strategy and suggests recommendations for boosting exports.

 

The geo-strategically located northeast region of India shares borders with China, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. The region, with a total of 5,182 km of international border, is considered as the “gateway” of India’s integration with Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura comprise the region and account for 8% of the total geographical area of the country (NEDFi data bank 2011).

Apart from the Brahmaputra, Barak, Imphal, and Tripura plains, the remaining two thirds of the area is hilly terrain. The topography neither supports large-scale industrialisation nor is it conducive for generating agricultural surplus. However, the diversity in soil and agro-climatic conditions gives the region a comparative advantage in the production of horticulture crops. A large variety of tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate fruits and vegetables grow in the region. Since farmers continue to follow traditional methods of cultivation with negligible use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, the producers of this region are organic by default. With the increase in income and health awareness, the demand for organic products is on the rise. This opens up opportunities for expansion of market for the organically produced fruits and vegetables of the region both within and outside of the country.

Though India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, the country has thus far failed to leverage her strength in gaining a significant share of the global exports. Failure to comply with international quality standards, poor market intelligence and linkages, and supply chain disruptions due to volatility in production are some factors impeding the growth of exports. However, the hitherto underutilised northeastern region can be a major contributor in unleashing the true potential of India’s horticulture exports. The organic fruits and vegetables of the region can constitute a significant share of India’s export basket and provide a competitive advantage in international trade in the coming years. There are also several horticultural crops, such as passion fruit, kiwi fruit, chow-chow, and sweet gourd (kakrol), that are not so popular but grow in huge quantities in many areas of the region. These crops are cultivated on such a vast scale that they are consumed by people from all walks of life in the region and are exported to nearby states and neighbouring countries (Yadav et al 2003). There is considerable diversity among regional plant species, and many are used for medicinal purposes. These crops not only generate profitable income in rural areas but also provide nutritional security (Sarmah and Deka 2012). Deka et al (2012) have also highlighted that most of the horticultural crops are rich in minerals and vitamins and other bioactive molecules that are suitable for medicine, aromatic, and food processing industries.

Through processing and value addition, these crops can generate higher income and alleviate poverty and nutritional insecurity in the farming sector. De (2017) is of the opinion that there is immense potential for vertical and horizontal growth in the horticulture sector of the region. There is a need to expand the area under cultivation, especially in Assam, Mizoram, and Nagaland. Fruits and vegetable cultivation have been identified as the most profitable venture of all farming activities in Assam as it provides ample employment opportunities and generates exportable surplus leading to economic growth (Sarma and Devi 2016). Majumder and Deka (2018) have highlighted the existence of marketable surplus of fruits and vegetables in Tripura that can be exported in fresh as well as processed form to generate foreign exchange. Due to the enlargement of the market for these crops in recent years, the horticulture sector of the region is fast emerging as an important sector, providing lucrative income and employment to the farming sector and also supporting a large number of agro-based industries (Nabi and Bagalkoti 2017). Studies conducted by CMI Social Research Centre (APEDA 2014) and Sathguru Management Consultants (APEDA 2016) for the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), an organ of the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, also highlighted the availability of marketable surplus of many fruits and vegetables of the region, which have high export potential both in fresh and processed form.

Due to the concerted efforts of the state governments of the region in providing infrastructural and technological support for the development of horticulture sector and the initiatives taken by APEDA in providing market linkages, the export of fruits and vegetables from the region is gradually picking up. While the export of agricultural products has recorded 85.34 percent growth, export earnings increased from USD 2.52 million to USD 17.2 million during the period from 2016–17 to 2021–22 (The Shillong Times 2022).

However, volatility has been observed in volume as well as export earnings. Economists have studied volatility in horticulture exports and have largely attributed it to the dependence on primary exports, existence of commodity concentration, and geographic concentration of exports in developing countries (Love 1987; Devkota 2004; Malhotra 2015; Mohandas Indhusree and Kuruvilla 2018).

Materials and Methods

The article attempts to assess the performance of the export of fruits and vegetables from the northeast region of India and identify the challenges during the period from 2010–11 to 2020–21. For this purpose, secondary data pertaining to the volume of exports (in metric tonnes) and value (in lakhs) have been extracted from the official portal of APEDA. Data on the area under cultivation, production, and productivity of select fruit and vegetable crops have been gleaned from the Indian horticulture database of the National Horticulture Board. Data collected have been analysed to gauge the export performance of the region as a whole.

Analytical Framework

Growth Rate

The compound annual growth rates (CAGR) of the quantity exported, export earnings, and the area under cultivation, production, and productivity of select crops that are exported have been computed using the exponential function

                                                 

Where, y = export quantity/export value/area under cultivation/production/productivity of

                Individual crops

            = time period in years

           = regression coefficient

  CAGR =  Antilog (b-1)x100

Instability Index

To examine the variability in volume and value of exports as well as the area under cultivation, production, and productivity of individual crops, the Cuddy–Della Valle Index (1978) has been used. Due to the efficacy of the index in correcting the overestimation of instability in long-term trends of time series data, the index is widely used in studying crop variability.

Instability Index (II) = , where CV is the coefficient of variation in percent and r2 is the coefficient of determination of the trend regression that best fits the time series data.

Following Sihmar (2014), instability ranges have been categorised as low instability = 0 to 15, medium instability = greater than 15 but less than 30, and high instability = greater than 30.

Concentration/Diversification Index

Gini Coefficient and Herfindahl-Hirschman Index is the most widely used index in measuring commodity concentration. The concentration/diversification index for exports reflects the extent to which the export basket is concentrated or diversified. Diversification of the export basket is essential for reducing external shocks and volatility in export earnings.

Gini Coefficient and Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (GHI) =

where Xtt is the quantity or the value of export of individual fruit/vegetable i from the northeast region of India in the year t, and Xt is the total quantity or value of export of all fruits/vegetables from the region in that year.

The smaller the value of the concentration, the larger is the diversification and vice versa. A declining trend of index indicates greater diversification of exports over the years (Joshy 1997).

Trend Equations

Trend equations have been fitted using the linear regression model to examine the concentration/diversification of exports over the period of 11 years, taking the value of GHI as the dependent variable and time as the independent variable. While a positive regression coefficient indicates an increase in concentration over time, a negative coefficient indicates a reduction in concentration.

Results and Discussion

Horticulture is gradually emerging as a sustainable occupation in the northeast region of India as it allows diversification and ensures continuous flow of income throughout the year. The region produces marketable surplus of fresh fruits, namely, orange, pineapple, lemon, banana, grapes, and jackfruit as well as vegetables, such as tomato, potato, cabbage, cauliflower, aubergine, and onion. These crops are predominantly organic and hence are gaining access to markets within the country and beyond the borders, especially in the neighbouring and the Middle-East countries.

Growth Rates, Instability Index, and Percent Shares of Exports

Fresh Fruits

Table 1 reveals that though the export of fruits has been growing at an annual rate of 19.9% from 2010–11 to 2020–21, it has been highly unstable as is reflected by the instability indices (II) of 76.93%. On the contrary, an almost double annual growth rate in the export earnings has been observed during the period. However, the export earnings too have recorded high instability of 54.98%.

While the region’s share in the total fruit exports from India is 0.97%, on an average, its share in the export earnings of the country is only 0.27%.

Table 1: Exports of Fruits from the Northeast Region (Quantity in Metric Tonnes and Value in Lakhs)

Year

Quantity

Value

% share in total exports from India (Quantity)

% share in total exports from India (Value)

2010–11

606.6

69.75

0.1509

0.0669

2011–12

620

107

0.1476

0.0743

2012–13

16,134.83

299.24

3.5633

0.1516

2013–14

2,283.77

334.09

0.5266

0.1262

2014–15

1,748.38

246.82

0.4386

0.1046

2015–16

3,226.76

558.55

0.6061

0.1719

2016–17

4,774.87

967.52

0.7397

0.2510

2017–18

7,841.96

2,016.36

1.4040

0.5412

2018–19

10,443.25

3,294.73

1.5707

0.7200

2019–20

9,458.4

2,699.69

1.2783

0.5815

2020–21

2,427.72

661.15

0.2769

0.1376

CAGR*

19.9

39.1

Average: 0.9730

Average: 0.2661

r2

0.3

0.75

 

 

b

1.199

1.391

 

 

II**

76.93

54.98

 

 

Source: APEDA-DGCIS; Estimates—Authors’ calculation.

*CAGR- Compound Annual Growth Rate **II-Instability Indices

Fresh Vegetables

It can be observed in Table 2 that the quantity and value of exports have registered a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48% and 60%, respectively. Though the growth rates have been impressive, they are highly unstable as is evidenced by the instability indices (II) of 91.37% and 97.07%, respectively.

The average share of the region’s vegetables in the total vegetable exports from India is a miniscule 0.02% and is the same for the share in the total value.

 Table 2: Exports of Vegetables from the Northeast Region (Quantity in Metric tonnes and Value in Lakhs)

Year

Quantity

Value

% share in total exports from India (Quantity)

% share in total exports from India (Value)

2010–11

39.98

5.56

0.0024

0.0022

2011–12

9.74

0.36

0.0005

0.0001

2012–13

6

0.99

0.0003

0.0003

2013–14

651.07

175.79

0.0275

0.0338

2014–15

169.04

26.56

0.0082

0.0060

2015–16

378.78

44.63

0.0181

0.0087

2016–17

744.94

89.29

0.0219

0.0154

2017–18

525.18

79.6

0.0226

0.0160

2018–19

1,057.97

205.55

0.0362

0.0371

2019–20

51.45

12.85

0.0027

0.0029

2020–21

2135.03

434

0.0945

0.0873

CAGR

48

60

Average: 0.0214

Average: 0.0191

r2

0.439

0.479

 

 

b

1.48

1.6

 

 

II

91.37

97.07

 

 

Source: APEDA - DGCIS; Estimates—Authors’ calculation.

To increase the export of fruits and vegetables and achieve greater stability, it is imperative to augment production by increasing the yield per hectare of major crops of the export baskets. This calls for strategic planning in horticulture development.

An examination of Tables 3 (a and b) below reflects the instability in the production and productivity of some exportable crops during the period from 2012–13 to 2017–18. There has been a decline in the productivity of two major crops that are exported, namely, orange and tomato by 7.3% and 5.1% per annum, respectively. Production of orange has been moderately unstable (15.83%) and has increased at the rate of 6.6% per annum. Tomato, on the contrary, registered only 1.8% annual growth rate in production with a low instability of 5.03%. Lemon has also recorded only 2% and 0.6% per annum increase in production and productivity, respectively. However, impressive growth rates with low instability have been observed in the case of onion; while production increased at 27% per annum, productivity increased at 19.9% annually.

Table 3(a): Area, Production, and Productivity of Select Fruit Crops in Northeast India (A in ‘000 hectares and Pin ‘000 Metric Tonnes)

 

Orange

Lemon

Year

Area

Production

Productivity

Area

Production

Productivity

201213

58.49

387.44

6.62

34.22

223.33

6.53

201314

65.61

416.86

6.35

34.29

221.19

6.45

201415

56.9

420.21

7.39

35.36

227.85

6.44

201516

112.5

654.59

5.82

36.21

239.87

6.62

201617

103.58

504.02

4.87

34.58

230.61

6.67

201718

103.01

494.26

4.8

34.72

242.02

6.97

CAGR

15

6.6

−7.3

0.3

1.7

0.6

r2

0.68

0.392

0.67

0.09

0.703

0.009

b

1.15

1.066

0.927

1.003

1.017

1.006

II

17.5

15.83

9.72

2.07

2

11.85

Source: Indian horticulture database, National Horticulture Board; Annual reports of the Directorate of State Horticulture.

Table 3(b): Area, Production, and Productivity of Select Vegetables Crops in Northeast India (A in ‘000 hectares and Pin ‘000 Metric Tonnes)

 

Tomato

Onion

Year

Area

Production

Productivity

Area

Production

Productivity

201213

24.71

508.22

20.57

10.4

46.52

4.47

201314

29.16

578.36

19.83

9.63

52.24

5.42

201415

29.69

592.93

19.97

11.79

63.82

5.41

201516

29.42

602.33

20.47

12.86

108.76

8.46

201617

44.96

592.39

13.18

13.07

113.24

8.66

201718

31.27

566.49

18.12

13.03

143.45

11.01

CAGR

7.3

1.8

−5.1

6.3

27.4

19.9

r2

0.439

0.293

0.326

0.766

0.95

0.936

b

1.073

1.018

0.949

1.063

1.274

1.199

II

16.47

5.03

12.46

6.02

9.83

8.74

Source: Indian horticulture database, National Horticulture Board; Annual reports of the Directorate of State Horticulture.

Concentration/Diversification of Exports

Fresh Fruits

Table 4 presents the Gini Coefficient and Herfindahl-Hirschman Index indices that reflect the concentration/diversification in the export basket of fruits as well as the export earnings. Very high concentration (reduced diversification) in the export baskets has been observed in 2012–13 and 2016–17. The Gini Coefficient and Herfindahl-Hirschman Index indices of 0.94 and 0.91, respectively, indicate that limited fruits have been exported in both the years. Orange has been found to account for the largest share in the export basket. However, post 2016–17, some amount of diversification can be observed as is reflected by the reduction in the Gini Coefficient and Herfindahl-Hirschman Index estimates. There has been an increase in the quantity exported of pineapple, lemon, grapes, and banana in the subsequent years, adding diversity and stability to the fruit exports of the region.

In terms of export earnings also the same trend has been observed. High estimates of Gini Coefficient and Herfindahl-Hirschman Index suggest that export earnings were derived from very few commodities over the years. Highest concentration has been observed in 2016-17 with an estimate of 0.91. However, export earnings were spread over a larger variety of fruits in the year 2020-21 as is evidenced by the reduction in the estimate to 0.52. Hence, larger the diversification, greater will be the stability of not only the export basket, but also of the export earnings.

Fresh Vegetables

Table 4 also indicates that only one vegetable has been exported from the region from 2010–11 to 2012–13 as is reflected by the Gini Coefficient and Herfindahl-Hirschman Index indices of 1, both in the case of quantity and value of exports. Tomato has been found to be the only vegetable exported during the period. The inclusions of onion, potato, cabbage, lettuce, and radish have lent some diversity to the export basket since 2013–14 as reflected by the reduction in the value of the estimates. While highest diversification (0.55) in quantity exported can be seen in 2017–18, the export earnings were spread over more commodities (0.45) in 2014–15. High estimates of the Gini Coefficient and Herfindahl-Hirschman Index throughout the period suggest that the export basket is highly concentrated with few commodities. The export earnings have also been extremely volatile. Hence, the production and productivity of other vegetables may be increased to make the exports more stable in terms of volume and value.

Table 4: Gini Coefficient and Herfindahl-Hirschman Index of Concentration/Diversification (Fruits and Vegetables)

 

Fruits

Vegetables

Year

Quantity

Value

Quantity

Value

2010–11

0.71

0.71

1

1

2011–12

0.76

0.82

1

1

2012–13

0.94

0.71

1

1

2013–14

0.65

0.65

0.94

0.98

2014–15

0.77

0.76

0.64

0.45

2015–16

0.72

0.73

0.94

0.77

2016–17

0.91

0.91

0.94

0.86

2017–18

0.68

0.64

0.55

0.48

2018–19

0.57

0.56

0.88

0.87

2019–20

0.58

0.57

0.65

0.55

2020–21

0.57

0.52

0.75

0.71

Source: Authors’ calculation.

Trends

The estimated trend lines are displayed in Table 5. Negative regression coefficients indicate that larger diversification (reduced concentration) may be expected over the years in the quantity of fruits and vegetables exported, as well as in the export earnings. However, only the regression coefficient of the estimated trend line pertaining to the quantity of vegetables exported has been found to be statistically significant.

Table 5: Trend Equations

Fruits

Vegetables

Quantity Exported Value of Exports Quantity Exported Value of Exports

GHI = 0.842 – 0.021t

F(1,9) = 4.034, p = 0.076 (not significant)

GHI = 0.813 – 0.021t

F(1,9) = 4.682, p = 0.059 (not significant)

GHI = 1.035 – 0.032t

F(1,9) = 6.013, p = 0.037 (significant)

GHI = 1.019 – 0.038t

F(1,9) = 4.995, p = 0.052 (not significant)

(t = independent variable, GHI = dependent variable)

Processed Fruits and Vegetable Exports

Table 6 shows a decline in the annual growth rates of volume and the value of exports of processed fruits by 10.1% and 4.4%, respectively. However, impressive per annum growth rates have been recorded in the case of processed vegetables at 26.2% and 37.6% for quantity exported and export earnings, respectively. Exports of both fruits and vegetables in processed form have been highly unstable.

Table 6: Export of Processed Fruits and Vegetables (Quantity in Metric Tonnes and Value in Lakhs)

Year

Processed Fruits

Processed Vegetables

Quantity

Value

Quantity

Value

2013–14

176.28

55.96

21

14.72

2014–15

389.46

418.16

21.87

10.86

2015–16

488.6

432.99

141.12

129.35

2016–17

614.66

812.07

24.26

12.99

2017–18

294.38

72.85

17.61

10.4

2018–19

242.93

231.18

78.69

76.86

2019–20

64.19

96.09

108.48

111.53

2020–21

233.36

171.45

147.22

165.27

CAGR

−10.1

−4.4

26.2

37.6

r2

0.169

0.014

0.374

0.402

b

0.889

0.956

1.262

1.376

II

51.53

89.24

63.43

72.74

Source: Authors’ calculation.

Export Destinations:

Bangladesh has been the major importer of fresh fruits and vegetables of the region, followed by Bhutan. In 2018–19, fruits were also exported to Hong Kong, China, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Fresh vegetables have also been exported to the UAE in 2018–19 and 2019–20. In 2021, the APEDA facilitated export of Assam’s lemon to London and Burmese grapes known as leteku to Dubai, Tripura’s jackfruit to London and Germany, and Nagaland’s king chilli to London. While processed fruits, juices, and nuts have an established market in Bhutan, there is no permanent demand for these products in the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh, China, and Myanmar. Processed vegetables of the region are found to be gradually gaining market access in the UAE.

Marketing Strategy

The region woefully lacks in market linkages and intelligence, which are impeding the growth of exports. The export market for fruits and vegetables of the region are largely unorganised and controlled mainly by a few private traders. Exports are generally based on temporary negotiations. To expand the overseas market for the horticulture crops of the region, it is imperative to establish permanent market linkages. In this regard, establishment of a seamless value chain that connects the farmer with the exporter through a well-designed distribution channel is of paramount importance. The export business of horticultural produces requires a high degree of coordination among the different beneficiaries involved due to the highly perishable nature of the products. Starting from the production till the packaging, levelling, and export, it requires an updated and well-knit coordination among the players involved in the process. Logistics, such as cold storages, processing units, sorting facility centres, and packaging units as well as transportation play a vital role in the horticulture value chain (Murthy, Reddy and Rao 2014).

To augment exports, it is also essential to adhere to a sorting and grading system that conforms to international quality standards. Good packaging not only aids in protecting the products from damage during storage and shipment but also motivates clients to spend more money for the products. Hence, availability of such infrastructural facilities becomes vital in the supply chain system. However, there are only 69 cold storage units available in the northeast region as reflected in the table 7 below:

Table 7:  Cold Storage Infrastructure with Capacity in Different States

S. No.

States/Union Territories

No. of Cold Storages

Capacity (Mts)

1

Arunachal Pradesh

2

6,000

2

Assam

39

1,78,096

3

Manipur

2

4,500

4

Meghalaya

4

8,200

5

Mizoram

3

4,001

6

Nagaland

3

7,150

7

Sikkim

2

2,100

8

Tripura

14

46,354

Source: (Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare 2020)

Distribution Channels

Establishment of well-designed distribution channels are vital for the smooth functioning of the supply chain. However, the absence of proper distribution channels has thus far restricted farmers of the region to produce for personal consumption and meeting local demand. Hence, adoption of diversified distribution channel is necessary to increase export demand that in turn will not only generate higher revenue for all the stakeholders in the supply chain but also induce farmers to increase production and productivity of such crops.

The following export-based distribution model may be adopted to establish linkages and boost exports (Figure1):            

   

 Figure 1:

                               

                                   

Explanation: Fruits and vegetables can be exported through the three distribution channels shown in Figure 1. In the first case, wholesalers and distributors may either directly procure from the farmers or purchase from the local traders and commission agents and sell the products to the exporters. In the second case, Large Area Multipurpose Societies (LAMPS)/Primary Agricultural Cooperatives (PACs) may purchase from farmers and sell it to the procurement agents who in turn sell it to exporters. In the third case, government agencies can directly procure from farmers and export or deliver the goods to the border haats from where they are purchased directly by the traders of the importing countries or the domestic export traders.

Marketing and Promotion Policies for Export

A well-planned and coordinated marketing strategy holds key to the success of any business enterprise. Hence, for the promotion of horticulture exports from northeast India, a holistic approach that addresses infrastructural requirements and market linkages should be adopted. For developing an effective marketing set-up for the export of horticulture products of the region, few measures such as the establishment of crop-specific organic production clusters with necessary infrastructural support, setting up of intra-border marketing hubs, establishment of export terminal markets, direct marketing channel management, etc., can be undertaken. In doing so, state-wise export committees can be constituted that will work in tandem with the horticulture crop growers. These committees will facilitate the collection of goods, storing in cold storages, standardising, packaging, and certification of the products to be exported.

Recently, APEDA has been making concerted efforts to boost agri-exports from the region. It has organised 136 capacity-building programmes on export awareness, 22 international buyer–seller meets as well as trade fairs across the northeastern states in the last three years (The Shillong Times 2022). Proactive support of the state governments in this initiative can help in realising the true export potential of the region. The state governments should also conduct training programmes on the pre- and post-harvest management of crops, organise capacity-building programmes that will sensitise market functionaries to identify new markets that are high on export demand for the products, and disseminate information on quality control, packaging, assortment, border functionalities, taxes, etc. Growers may be encouraged to participate in export trade and be informed about credit facilities, subsidies for export, the ease of channel management, hassle-free trade and payment system, simplification of documentations, maintenance of standards such as agriculture marketing (AGMARK), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), modern packaging equipment, sorting, storing and grading systems, the use of bio-fertilisers, etc.

Moreover, the state government web portals on the export of agri-produces should contain information on the available export logistics, export trends, exporters’ catalogue, and details on export policies, schemes, and procedures. It should also provide details on infrastructure, export promotion initiatives, and new government incentives, standards, and certification guidelines.

Branding and promoting the region’s products in international markets and trade fairs as well as creating domestic marketing value chain, which is further linked to the international market value chain through the simplification of border intricacies, can help in boosting the export of fruits and vegetables from northeastern states. For that, adequate amenities for exporters to procure horticulture crops directly from growers, such as, spot marketing, forward marketing, and integration with global value chain, etc., should be provided. Global online advertising, websites, and email marketing are all crucial in today’s online marketing. Social media and direct marketing modes can be explored to promote indigenous as well organic products to the international markets.

Another important component of export strategy is export pricing. However, the pricing strategy for export goods cannot be apparently determined as it varies depending upon factors like border duties, taxes, and demand elasticity of the products in the exporting countries, quality and quantity of the products, brand awareness, and unique selling proposition of the products. Since the export of fruits and vegetables of the region is at a nascent stage, it is imperative to follow a strategy that would ensure global competitiveness and help in expanding the export market. Hence, a markup or cost-plus pricing strategy where the maximum retail price (MRP) of the goods will be based on the cost of production that includes transportation and other expenses pertaining to the export of the goods may be adopted. A modest profit margin will not only enable to gain market access but also induce growers to invest in horticulture for sustainable income.

 

Conclusions

The large varieties of temperate, tropical, and sub-tropical fruits and vegetables that grow in the northeast region have tremendous export potential. Hence, development of the horticulture sector, with thrust on organic cultivation, can provide the necessary impetus to revitalise the agricultural sector and create higher employment and income opportunities. Though the region produces significant marketable surplus of some crops, yet poor marketing intelligence and linkages are hindering export growth. To unleash the true potential, it is imperative to adopt a planned and well-designed marketing strategy that can strengthen export business and generate higher income for the growers. Providing quality inputs to enhance productivity, resolving logistics problem, strengthening post-harvest management, and establishing processing units are key to operationalise a seamless value chain.

To take advantage of the long stretch of international border for promoting exports, the government should liberalise border regulations, improve bilateral ties, and encourage local as well as foreign traders to participate and invest in border trade. As exports gain momentum, there will not only be a higher inflow of foreign exchange but also lead to development of the region through the creation of backward and forward linkages. 

Madhuchhanda Dasgupta teaches at Women’s College, Shilong, Meghalaya; Trinankur Dey teaches at the Faculty of Management and Commerce, ICFAI University Tripura.
2 January 2024