Sathguru, through extensive field research, stakeholder consultations and value chain analysis, developed a comprehensive master plan, including the execution blueprints. This equipped APEDA with necessary information, strategies and finer action plans for promoting the agri and food exports from the resource rich but infrastructure constrained North East India.
Challenge/Problem statement/Situation analysis
APEDA, India’s apex agri and food export development body, has played a prominent role in promoting and shaping up the export infrastructure in the country. APEDA formulated several support programs for North East (NE) India, a region with rich and diverse agricultural profile; however, the exports from the region were limited due to myriad challenges. Sathguru, through competitive bidding, was awarded the project to identify the bottlenecks in tapping the true potential of NE region and prepare a comprehensive and actionable road map to promote exports from the region.
The scope of Sathguru’s engagement included:
- Assessing the current situation – agricultural production and food processing value chains, infrastructure, government support – in the eight states of North East India.
- Identifying the key bottlenecks hindering the progress of agri/food exports form the region.
- Identifying top ten products with comparative advantage and export potential from the region.
- Developing a master plan with implementable action plans covering the supply chain & logistics; processing infrastructure; locations for projects; regulatory, quality & food safety aspects; marketing and branding strategy; and capacity building & skill development needs.
- Reviewing and developing food safety plan in compliance with PCHF rule of FSMA and improving the food safety systems in processing unit in general.
Sathguru’s approach was to deconstruct the complexities of the value chains and their challenges in order to design a simple, executable plan with short, mid and long-term approaches for developing sustainable exports form the region. This was achieved by:
- Identifying agro/food products from NE region with export potential and feasibility of scaling up exports to global markets by developing a selection criteria/ priority matrix.
- Value chain assessments for these products – from production to international markets and identifying specific bottlenecks in exports of the identified products.
- Evaluating demand and supply side parameters driving the trade of the identified products in domestic and international markets.
- Assessing comparative advantage of NE region w.r.t. the identified products in comparison to other states and neighbouring countries through extensive primary & secondary research, stakeholder consultations and detailed analysis thereof.
- Assessing current infrastructure, investment climate, ease of doing business, existing government support & programs, and employment generation in agro processing.
- Preparing a comprehensive masterplan to counter the bottlenecks – studying in detail different factors like existing infrastructure, introduction of new technologies, collaboration between different governments and departments, requirements for skill development etc.
As part of the master plan to promote exports from the NE region, Sathguru recommended:
- A robust framework focussing on strengthening the value chains covering all the aspects from farming & inputs till the markets & customers.
- Overcoming the logistic issues and perishability issues and to generate better value, Sathguru recommended a short to mid-term approach of exporting processed products with demand in the destination markets.
- Leveraging the local advantage of not using agro-chemicals and establishing a more premium positioning for the products by adopting a staggered approach to certify the organic production and to establish a regional organic certifying agency.
- Streamlining of the current supply chain by reaching out to premium markets and skipping the current informal markets.
- Preparing an action plan and policy approach for promoting the entrepreneurship in food processing, which was designed based on potential clusters & government agencies identified, and ongoing support schemes.
- Targeted approach with enhanced focus on identified locations, capacities and investment requirements for establishing the pilot processing units to help catalysing the food processing activities in the region.
The holistic value chain approach and the detailed study capturing even the minute complexities in the region, helped APEDA in optimizing the current support schemes aimed towards North East region and brought many stakeholders in the public sectors together for possible convergence. The study can be credited with success as several trial runs for exports from the region were initiated based on the recommendations made and strategies proposed; and APEDA also received a higher number of proposals for new units from the region