The concept of food parks and agri-export zones (AEZs) has been initiated besides several incentive schemes by the Government of India. The Central Government has released a food processing policy in 2001. However the role of the State is considered vital (Dev and Rao 200522). The concept of AEZ attempts to take a comprehensive look at a particular produce located in a contiguous area for the purpose of developing and sourcing for raw materials, their processing and packaging, and finally their export (Viswanadham 200523). AEZs have been approved by the Government of India with a total envisaged investment of Rs 1,325 crore. A total number of 48 AEZs have been approved in 19 States of India. Since the AEZ was flagged off in the 2001 Export-Import (Exim) Policy, the actual investment flows from both the State governments as also private sector was only Rs 145 crore in 2002.
The concept of AEZ’s which aims to give fillip to agriculture exports, comprises the following a) Identifying a potential zone based on agro-climatic requirements for a particular crop b) Integrating various assistance programs of Central and State Government agencies and providing fiscal incentives to exporters. c) Implementing the same through involvement of private and public partnership and d) Integrating all the activities till the produce reaches the market.
There were several success stories of AEZs. For the first time, 170 tonnes processed litchi was exported from Bihar in 2003, over Rs 58 crore worth of gherkins had been exported from Karnataka and Export of three tonnes of flowers occurred from a model farm in Tamil Nadu. For the first time, vegetables such as snow peas, snap-peas and okra were shipped in Punjab. The total exports from AEZ were of the order of Rs 460 crore in 2002.