India is easing restrictions on its exports of organic agricultural products to boost output and increase its international market share.

The changes, to come into effect by 14 April, will see the scrapping caps on exports of organic wheat, sugar and non-basmati rice. All have had annual export volume limits of up to 10,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, the annual limit on exports organic pulses has been increased from 10,000 to 50,000 tonnes.

“The government is supporting the farmers and exporters to tap huge opportunity that exists within the country and abroad for organic agriculture products,” said a statement from the central government cabinet economic affairs committee on Friday (31 March).

According to India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), in the financial year ending March 2016, the country exported US$298m of organic food products, mainly oil seeds and processed food.

Organic production is challenging within India. Narender Singh, executive director at rice supplier, Dunar Foods, said farmers do not get a sufficiently attractive price premium to compensate for falls in yield created by avoiding chemical inputs, while there are supply shortages for organic fertilisers.

Singh added even where producers choose to switch to organic, many cannot offer certified organic products for at least two years “due to the high chemical residue in the fields from previous cultivation”.

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