VARANASI: When the entire country was facing strict lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commerce Ministry worked towards bringing the delicious mangoes and vegetables of Varanasi and nearby areas to reach the international markets in Europe and Middle Eastern countries for the first time.
"The COVID-19 lockdown period since March last year was utilised to bring vegetables and fruits from Varanasi to the international markets through both land and sea routes. Varanasi was connected to the export markets through both air and; sea resulting in the export of fresh vegetables (green chilly, long guard, green peas and cucumber), mangoes (Banarasi, Langra, Ramkheda and Chausa), etc to Europe and the Middle Eastern countries," Commerce Ministry officials told ANI here.
The officials said the exports were made possible as they connected the Fresh Vegetables and Fruits Exporters Association in Mumbai with the farmer groups in Varanasi. The exporter association searched for the markets for the produce from Varanasi and helped the farmers to earn more money from their produce.
"Till March 2021, 48 metric tonnes of fresh vegetables and 10 MT of mangoes have been exported from the Varanasi cluster," they said.
Another major success in terms of exports due to efforts by the Commerce Ministry, headed by Piyush Goel, has been the black rice as for the first time, 532 MT of Black rice was exported from Chandauli to Australia and New Zealand. Chandauli is also part of the Varanasi cluster.
The Commerce Ministry had recently stated that the country's export of agricultural and allied products in 2020-21 grew by 17.34 per cent to USD 41.25 billion, and this growth momentum is expected to be sustained in the current fiscal as well.
Speaking about the effort put in by the Agriculture Division of the Commerce Ministry, Deputy Director Rajan Sharma told ANI on sidelines of a conference, "During the lockdown, as per the directions of Commerce Minister, the team led by Joint Secretary burnt midnight oil and left no stone unturned to reach out to exporters and resolving their problems.
"In the first week of lockdown itself, around 1000 calls of exporters were attended and all the issues like the movement of consignments, trucks, labour, issuance of certificates, lab testing reports, sample collection etc faced by the exporters were addressed after taking them up with the concerned authorities viz. local administration, police, ports. shipping and foreign trade authorities and ensured the real time clearance of export consignments," he said.
He said that to help the farmer groups and exporters, the issuance of various certificates were made online and all the exporters access certificates for export, certificate of origin, health certificates etc. through their mobile phones, without visiting the government offices, making the exports hassle-free.