India’s long-winding negotiations with Russia for accessing its large market for dairy products may finally be nearing an end with the Russian quality control department, FSVPS, agreeing to discuss and examine the independent disease control mechanism adopted by the dairies wanting to export.
Indian officials from the Commerce Ministry, together with top Indian dairy companies such as Amul and Parag, at a recent food fair in Dubai, convinced Russia’s FSVPS to focus on quality control measures adopted by Indian dairies and its effectiveness instead of number of cattle owned by them, a government official told BusinessLine.
“A meeting between FSVPS officials and the Commerce Ministry is scheduled this week where India will explain in detail the disease control and vaccination programmes followed by veterinarians working for dairies in their catchment areas,” the official said.
The Russian officials are also expected to consult their agriculture university on the safety and efficacy of these measures. “They will also be asked to verify and see for themselves that the areas services by the vets have been disease-free,” the official said.
Cap on cattles goes
Interestingly, Russia, which had put the condition that it would source cheese from only those dairies that owned at least 1,000 cattle, had agreed to India’s condition that the requirement of a captive cattle farm be reviewed after six months as most dairies did not have such farms. But the Indian government had second thoughts and wanted the issue of captive cattle farms settled before any export happened as it feared that the matter may not be addressed later.
“We told the Russian officials in Dubai that the special relationship between the two countries warranted that it did not insist on a requirement that is unrealistic and can’t be met by most dairies worldwide,” the official said.
India is trying to grab a share of Russia’s annual imports of food items from Western countries, which is to the tune of $40 billion. Since Moscow has banned import of most food products from the West because of acrimony over the on-going Ukrainian crisis, New Delhi wants to cash in on the opportunity.