DBT-accredited tissue culture labs are encouraged to enhance quality standards to meet the norms of importing countries
In order to boost exports of tissue culture plants, the Centre, through the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), conducted a webinar on “Export Promotion of Tissue Culture Plants such as Foliage, Live Plants, Cut Flowers, and Planting Material” with Department of Biotechnology (DBT) accredited tissue culture laboratories spread across India.
The top ten countries importing tissue culture plants from India are the Netherlands, USA, Italy, Australia, Canada, Japan, Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia and Nepal. In 2020-2021, India’s exports of tissue culture plants stood at US$17.17 million, with the Netherlands accounting for around 50% of the shipments.
APEDA officials informed participants about the latest demand trends for tissue culture plants in these countries and how the apex export promotion body could help Indian exporters/ tissue culture laboratories in accessing these markets.
As this was the first interaction programme with these laboratories, APEDA explained its function, mandate and other financial assistance extended to export-oriented plant tissue culture laboratories to improve efficiency, quality of plants, and how the latter could meet the phytosanitary norms of the importing countries and enhance their competence in the international market. In order to expand the range of tissue culture plants grown in India, APEDA has asked the exporters to provide a list of germplasms for particular plants/crops which can be imported from producing countries.
The exporters, in turn, also suggested that APEDA organize an international exhibition in India to showcase the various kinds of flora such as tissue cultured plants, forest plants, potted plants, ornamental and landscaping planting materials available in India. They have also suggested that APEDA take the lead in sending a trade delegation abroad to identify new markets for tissue culture plants from India and finalize deals with importers.
Tissue culture plant laboratories highlighted the issues and challenges faced by them in tissue-cultured planting material production and its exports. Exporters drew the attention of APEDA officials to issues such as increasing power costs, low-efficiency levels of the skilled workforce in the laboratories, contamination issues in the laboratories, cost of transportation of micro-propagated planting material, lack of harmonization in the HS code of Indian planting material with other nations and objections raised by the forest and quarantine departments which were posing challenges in the export of live planting material.
The tissue culture experts suggested that APEDA take up these issues with the concerned departments. APEDA has assured round-the-clock service to tissue culture plant laboratories so as to address all hardships faced by them.
APEDA is running a Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) to help laboratories upgrade themselves so as to produce export quality tissue culture planting material. It also facilitates exports of tissue culture planting material to diversified countries through market development, market analysis and promotion and exhibition of tissue culture plants at international exhibitions and by participating in buyer-seller meets at different international forums.
India is bestowed with knowledge, biotech experts with vast tissue culture experience as well as a low-cost labour force to help produce export-oriented quality planting material. All these factors make India a potential global supplier of an extended and diversified range of quality flora to the international market and, in turn, earn foreign exchange.