Boost agri export from airport: Traders : The Tribune India

Boost agri export from airport: Traders

Tribune News Service

Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, September 20

With agriculture experts and the government laying stress on switching from the conventional paddy and wheat cyclical circle to other crops, the export of fresh agriculture produce from the perishable cargo centre at Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport needs to be given a boost.

Taking advantage of Air India’s thrice-a-week direct Amritsar-London flight, some exporters from Punjab and Haryana are exporting fresh farm produce like baby corn, mango and other seasonal fruit and vegetables to Europe.

Azad Singh, in-charge of the centre at the airport, said the centre exported 400 tonnes of fresh farm cargo during the fiscal 2021-2022. “There is a great potential for agricultural and non-vegetarian items. Apart from fresh farm produce, the centre exports chess, pharma products, readymade garments, shawls, sports goods, engineering goods, etc,” he said.

The journey of perishable cargo has never been smooth. Initially, Jet Airways had been handling the export of fresh vegetables to London since July 2006. Subprime mortgage crisis-induced recession had forced the private airline to withdraw the flight. Later Air India filled the breach for some time as it eventually withdrew its Amritsar-London-Toronto flight on October 30, 2010. The export of fresh cargo had resumed only after the introduction of thrice-a-week to and fro direct service by BMI on the London-Almaty-Amritsar section from October 14, 2011. Subsequently, it was also withdrawn.

Now, Air India’s thrice-a-week flight to London offers about 12-tonne capacity of cargo in each plane. The staff at the center fresh farm produce state that a flight on an average carries three tonnes of cargo. There was a time when over one lakh kg of fresh vegetables were exported in 2006-07, the next year saw the volume go up to 2.78 lakh kg. In 2008-2009, it reached 6.23 lakh kg and the following year saw an export of 9.08 lakh kg.

Kuljit Singh, a progressive farmer, said the data apparently showed that to regain those levels of export, the airlines have to ensure regular connectivity. Besides, the government must play a proactive role to make most of the infrastructure.


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