India is on track to be the world’s most heavily populated country by 2025 and there needs to be a plan of action to feed the country and prevent shortfalls in the future. With a growing population and a reluctance to import agricultural products, India and other countries need to rely on changes in their policy, culture and diversity of food products to look to make an impact on feeding this growing population.

It is difficult to export products to India based on the country’s viewpoint on importing agricultural products. In many cases, India views importing food as a sign of failure or inability to grow products in their country which results in large tariffs on imports. To illustrate the lack of imports, in 2012 US agriculture exports to India were $881.5 million which is a minimal amount of exports for the US. When reviewing the top 15 US agriculture exports destinations, the 15th top export country is Vietnam, importing $1.65 billion from the US (1). India’s current top US imports include products such as fresh fruit, with apples being the leading crop, almonds, pulses, and dried peas. Currently, India is producing surpluses of rice and wheat and research has indicated that this will continue to be a trend in the future for this country. The South Asia Director of the International Food Policy Research Institute is an advocate for Indian farmers and lowering the minimum export prices so that India can become competitive in the marketplace.

The culture of India and their pride on growing their own agriculture products can cause a disruption in the exporting and importing of products. The Indian culture can be very protective of their products which can cause random bands on exporting product. Politics also impact this country where the small scale farmers are treated with special care and politicians do not want changes in imports and exports that could potentially threaten them. Decision making is slow in India when it comes to agricultural products and trade favors are part of the political culture making it difficult to lift barriers in this commodity area impacting import and export controls.

Bringing a diversity of food products to India is another important factor to the growing population. This country is comprised of cultural diversity that impacts the agricultural market; therefore when countries are looking to export their goods to India it is important to understand that the products they demand are diverse. Experts indicate that the way to impact India is not directly through the consumer but through building relationships and demonstrating your willingness to work with India on a long term basis. Allan Mustard with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service indicates "we cannot look at India as a mass market of 1 billion consumers. The needs and cultures are diverse. Selling California Almonds may penetrate half a billion of the population while California wine may impact 25 million people".

Overall there is opportunity to build relationships with India, especially with importers to take advantage of the growing population. Relationships in a supply chain on a local and global basis are important factors to consider as population continues to increase and sources for food become a greater challenge across the globe.
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Lindsey Fandozzi

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