Rama Krishna Sangem
Srihari Kotela, managing director of eFreshglobal.com, that aims empowering agriculture, food processing and food safety in India, is of the view that by upgrading food safety standards the country can double its agricultural exports soon. The present agricultural exports around Rs 3 lakh crore can be taken up to Rs 6 lakh crore.
Talking to Excel India at his Road No 12, Banjara Hills office in Hyderabad, Srihari, a chartered accountant by profession, said: “We must urgently focus on improving food safety standards so that our export competitiveness in the global market for agricultural products will be enhanced. All these years, we have concentrated on increasing productivity, but now is the time for improving quality of our products?.
His eFresh primarily provides one-stop solution to all stakeholders, particularly agriculturists and farmers who are keen on taking their produce to next level. Good agricultural practices (GAP) play a major role in factoring in food safety standards. Currently, eFresh is engaged with farmers in five states – Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
“Presently, we are in touch with around six lakh farmers and we want to take it to one million farmers by 2024,” he said. Our farmers are hardworking and intelligent. The only thing they need is awareness and guidance on improving quality standards,” said Srihari Kotela. As of now, farmers of some crops like grapes are following food safety standards for exporting their produce, but not others.
Importance of safety standards
Food safety standards have become all the more important since recently, particularly in the post-pandemic world. The increasing focus of the global agencies like the UN too deal with it. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns of the world bodies stipulate new norms in every area of agriculture – cultivation practices, use of pesticides, fertilizers among others, said Srihari Kotela.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of doubling farmers income by 2023-24 is another important point for us all. Unless, we promote quality for both domestic consumption and exports purpose, we cannot really achieve this target of doubling farmers income. For this we need to educate and sensitize all the stakeholders including farmers, traders and lower government machinery,” said Srihari Kotela.