Use the Lexology Getting the Deal Through tool to compare the answers in this article with those from other jurisdictions.


Supply chain

Describe the agriculture and food supply chain in your jurisdiction.

India is a large country with extensive areas of land that, combined with favourable climate conditions, are conducive to agriculture and the production of a variety of crops. Agriculture plays an important role in India and is the backbone of the economy. Almost 50 per cent of the total labour force is engaged in agriculture and it contributes approximately 16 per cent of India’s GDP. Agriculture has great potential and India is making constant efforts to improve the industry by extending adequate support to product strategy, public investment in infrastructure, research and development of crops, livestock, fisheries, with a view to enhance food production and its availability to the end consumers through proper food supply chains. The agriculture machinery and agriculture service sector have attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) equity inflow of about US$466.31 million and US$2.02 billion, respectively, during April 2000 to December 2017. In its budget for 2018-19, the central government has planned several reformative measures to boost agricultural production and support farmers, such as increase in machinery, automobile, crop prices and improvement in livelihood, infrastructure, women’s emancipation, besides improvement in soil fertility, organic farming, irrigation, genetically modified seeds and creation of unified national agriculture market, etc.


What is the regulatory environment for primary agriculture and primary food processors in your jurisdiction?

The regulatory environment for primary agriculture and primary food processors is quite congenial to the growth of agriculture in India. Agriculture, land and water are state subjects according to the Constitution of India, thus the major respective state governments frame laws relating to agriculture; however, certain related laws and incentive schemes are framed by the central government as well. The Ministry of Agriculture regulates the implementation of these laws. The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under the Ministry of Agriculture takes care of development of the agriculture sector. It controls various corporate bodies for development of the allied agricultural sector, such as the National Dairy Development Board.

The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under the Ministry of Agriculture has signed agreements with several countries, including the United States. Similarly, the Department of Agriculture Research and Education and the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture have also signed agreements with many countries. These agreements seek to provide better agricultural facilities in research and development, capacity building, post-harvest management, food processing, plant protection, animal husbandry, fisheries, etc. The agreements could help enhance bilateral trade as well.

Relevant organisations

What are the main non-governmental organisations and non-profit organisations in the agribusiness sector in your jurisdiction?

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and non-profit organisations play an important role in the agribusiness sector in India. These organisations act as a shadow government in implementing and enforcing government policies and thereby giving a boost to the agribusiness. Some of the main organisations are the Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals, the Naandi Foundation, Action For Social Development, and the Centre for Advanced Research and Development.

Land acquisition and use


Identify and summarise the legislation addressing agricultural property transactions in your jurisdiction. Outline how farmland is typically held.

The Constitution of India is federal in nature. It states that India shall be a union of states with a government at central level (ie, the central or union government) and a government at each state level (ie, the state governments). The Constitution defines the distribution of legislative powers between the central government and the state governments by laying down three primary lists:

  • the Union List, where only central government can frame laws;
  • the State List, where the state government can frame laws; and
  • the Concurrent List, where both the central government and the state governments can frame laws.

‘Agriculture’, including protection against pests and prevention of plant diseases, falls under entry No. 14 of the State List. Similarly ‘land’, including rights over land, the relationship between the landlord and tenant, transfer and alienation of agricultural land and conversion of land from agricultural to non-agricultural use, fall under entry No. 18 of the State List. Respective state governments are, therefore, responsible for framing legislation on agriculture and land. Accordingly, each state in India has its own land laws, dealing with, among other things:

  • ownership;
  • tenancy;
  • ceilings on holdings;
  • consolidation of holdings; and
  • improvements of land.

Operational holding of the land is divided into the following classes:

  • marginal;
  • small;
  • small-medium;
  • medium; and
  • large.

Different states follow different procedures for purchase of agricultural land. In certain states only an agriculturist can purchase agricultural land, but other states will not have such restrictions. For instance, in the state of Maharashtra, farmland is largely governed by the Maharashtra Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act 1948.

Almost all state legislation contains provisions for facilitating real estate transactions involving farm property as explained in question five. The law relating to easements is governed by the Indian Easements Act 1882.

Non-agricultural land rules

Outline any rules related to use of farmland for non-agricultural uses.

Farmland can be used for non-agricultural purposes, such as development of industrial projects, real estate, etc, under certain specified circumstances, based on the respective state legislation. Almost all state legislation provides for conversion of land use from agriculture to non-agriculture by obtaining the requisite permission with a ‘NA Certificate’. To promote business development and ease in setting up businesses in India, the state governments have simplified the process of obtaining such permission. In the past, almost 20 different ‘No Objection Certificates’ had to be obtained from various government departments for conversion of farmland to non-agricultural land. This has been eased by most of the state governments by setting up a single window system for this purpose.


How is lending secured by farmland addressed in your jurisdiction? Do special rules apply for farm lending?

In India, banks and financial institutions play a significant role in lending to farmers. Typically, the lending is classified into three categories: short term, medium term and long term. The lending is generally secured by hypothecation of the standing crop or mortgage of the land itself. Public and private sector banks are actively involved in lending to farmers. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India’s central bank, and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development are the regulatory banks.

Occasionally, state governments announce special incentive programmes for promoting agriculture. The RBI issues directives to banks to facilitate farm lending at concessional rates, under priority sector lending, which includes agriculture, agriculture infrastructure and ancillary activities.

Creditors' rights

Are there provisions relating to creditors’ rights on default by farmers that apply in your jurisdiction?

Although there are no direct provisions to this effect under the existing legislation, the central government, along with the respective state governments, take care of defaults by farmers in repayment of loans, when such a default arises on account of justifiable reasons, such as floods and drought.

There have been occasions when the respective governments have intervened between creditors and farmers and waived the interest payable by the farmers or the principle amount or both.

Publicly controlled property

Describe any rules relating to public control of farm property in your jurisdiction. What legislation governs them?

Public control over farm property is limited in India. As per article 39 of the Constitution: the ownership and control of the material resources of the country should be so distributed as best to serve the common good; and the operation of the economic system should not result in a concentration of wealth. Various sectors at central level, such as urban, rural, industrial, transport, mining and agriculture, follow their own approaches. For example, since nearly 70 per cent of India’s population is dependent on agriculture, the rural sector focuses on reforms on land acquisition and resettlement and rehabilitation, watershed management and modernisation of land records.

Foreign ownership restrictions

Are there any restrictions on foreign ownership of farm property in your jurisdiction? What legislation governs them?

There are restrictions on foreign ownership of farmland in India. A foreign citizen cannot acquire agricultural land, a farmhouse or plantation property in India without prior approval from the RBI. But a foreign citizen of Indian origin (an Indian citizen who is non-resident) can acquire such properties without the prior approval of the RBI by way of inheritance.

Any transaction relating to farmland involving foreign exchange is governed by the Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999.

Government programmes

Support programmes

Does the government provide agriculture support programmes to producers, processors or agriculture-related businesses and organisations? Outline the programmes and how they are generally accessed.

There are many governmental programmes in place to support agriculture. Successive governments have played a positive and active role in supporting agricultural production, processes and businesses. The following are examples of flagship government initiatives:

  • the Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme;
  • the National Crop Insurance Programme;
  • the Prime Minister’s Agriculture Irrigation Programme;
  • More crop per drop; and
  • the Traditional Farming Improvement Programme.

Along with the above-mentioned initiatives, the central and state governments have been organising various educational programmes accessible by means of telephone, radio, television, etc.

Are there any programmes addressing assistance or government incentives for investment by foreign ownership in agribusiness?

One hundred per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in agriculture is allowed by the central government via an automatic route in the following activities related to agriculture, subject to certain conditions specified in the FDI Policy:

  • floriculture, horticulture, apiculture and cultivation of vegetables and mushrooms;
  • development and production of seeds and planting material;
  • animal husbandry (including breeding of dogs), pisciculture and aquaculture; and
  • certain specified services related to agro and allied sectors.

Food safety, certification programmes, animal safety and disease

Livestock legislation

Outline the applicable legislation for primary processors of live animals. Is any distinction made between meat for domestic consumption and meat for export?

India is predominantly a meat exporting country. There is demand for Indian meat in the world market because of its lean and predominantly organic nature. One of the most important pieces of governing legislation is the Meat Food Products Order 1973 passed by the central government in exercise of the powers conferred upon it under section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act 1955. The person who is involved in primary processing of live animals shall obtain a licence from the Ministry of Agriculture under the said order for sale of meat products. The person obtaining the licence from the authorities shall have to comply with the conditions set out in the order.

There is hardly any difference between the meat products meant for domestic consumption and those intended for export. The meat industry for domestic consumption is largely concerned with fresh meat, which is processed and sold on a daily basis, whereas the export-oriented meat industry is primarily concerned with frozen meat products.

The export units have to adhere to the guidelines issued by the Prevention of Cruelty Towards Animals Act 1960, the Animal Welfare Board and Bureau of Indian Standards for transportation of all animals.

Food safety regime

Describe the food safety regime in your jurisdiction, including applicable legislation and regulations.

The Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 deals with food safety in India. The Act, in force, gives statutory powers to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The FSSAI is an agency under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which has its headquarters in New Delhi and eight regional offices in Delhi, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Guwahati, Mumbai, Kolkata, Cochin and Chennai.

Some of the key functions of the FSSAI include:

  • framing of regulations to lay down food safety standards;
  • laying down guidelines for accreditation of laboratories for food testing;
  • providing scientific advice and technical support to the central government;
  • contributing to the development of international technical standards in food;
  • collecting and collating data regarding food consumption, contamination, emerging risks, etc; and
  • disseminating information and promoting awareness about food safety in India.

Safety enforcement

What enforcement can take place in relation to food supply chain safety? What penalties may apply?

There are a number of pieces of legislation that cater to different aspects of food supply chain safety, the most important of these are the following.

The Food Safety and Standards Act 2006

This enactment lays down science-based standards for articles of food and regulates manufacturing, storage, distribution, sales and imports, to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption and matters connected therewith.

The Act contains multiple provisions for penalties that concern:

  • selling food that is not of the nature or substance or quality demanded;
  • substandard food;
  • misbranded food;
  • food containing extraneous matter;
  • unhygienic or unsanitary processing or manufacturing of food;
  • possessing adulterant; and
  • compensation in case of injury or death of the consumer after eating the food article, etc.

Any person contravening provisions of this Act is liable to imprisonment, a fine or both.

The Essential Commodities Act 1955

This Act enables the central government to regulate and control the production, supply, distribution, storage, transport, pricing and trade of certain essential commodities in the interest of the general public, ensuring easy availability of essential commodities and protection against exploitation by unscrupulous traders.

Any person contravening provisions of this Act is liable to imprisonment, a fine or both.

The Seeds Act 1966

This Act provides for regulating the quality of a variety of seeds for release in the market. Any person contravening provisions of this Act is liable to imprisonment, a fine or both.

Product certification

Describe any certification programmes and rules for genetically modified foods, organic foods or other differentiated products.

A prerequisite for farmers following organic cultivation methods is that they should use organically certified seeds in their farms.

Farmers should follow all the organic certification standards according to the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), in addition to the seed certification standards for the production of certified organic seeds. For the production of such seeds, farmers have to register their land with any of the accredited organic certification bodies in India and also the seed crop with the Department or Board of Seed Certification in their respective state. The NPOP is regulated by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

Organic food products that are manufactured must be marked with the India Organic certification mark issued by the APEDA. In a similar vein, agricultural products may only be exported as ‘organic’ if certified by an accredited agency.

In the exercise of powers conferred by sections 6, 8 and 25 of the Environment Protection Act 1986, the central government has laid down the Rules for the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms, Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells 1989, which mainly regulates development, environmental release and commercial approval of genetically modified crops.

A set procedure has been laid for the release of such products in the marketplace, after which the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, one of the statutory committees prescribed under the above rules, is the competent authority to approve or prohibit the release of such foods in the marketplace.

Food labelling requirements

What are the food labelling requirements, including the applicable legislation, enforcement and penalties?

The food labelling requirements are regulated by the Food Safety and Standards (packaging and labelling) Regulations 2011. Under these regulations, every packaged item of food has to be labelled with the following information:

  • name of the food;
  • list of ingredients;
  • nutritional information;
  • declaration of whether it is vegetarian or non-vegetarian;
  • declaration regarding food additives;
  • name and complete address of the manufacturer;
  • net quantity;
  • lot, code and batch number;
  • date of manufacture or packing;
  • ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates;
  • country of origin for imported food; and
  • instructions for use.

The penalty for misbrand­ing of food is a fine of up to 300,000 Indian rupees and for misleading advertising up to 1 million Indian rupees.

Food animal legislation

Outline any applicable legislation regarding health of food animals, including transportation and disease outbreak and management.

Legislative measures have been taken by many states for prevention and control of contagious animal diseases. The law provides for regulation of:

  • the entry and movement of infected animals into different states;
  • their registration and treatment;
  • regulation of markets, fairs and exhibitions;
  • cleaning and disinfection of vehicles used for the transport of diseased animals; and
  • reporting the occurrence of scheduled diseases.

The Transport of Animals Rules 1978, made under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, caters to such aspects. There is also a central act - the Livestock Importation Act 1898, amended in 2001 - under which the central government has the authority to regulate, restrict or prohibit the entry by sea, land or air into India of any livestock affected or that is liable to be affected by diseases, or the importation of fodder, dung, clothing, harness, etc, pertaining to such livestock. State governments have been empowered by the central government to frame rules under the act and set up quarantine stations for such purpose.

Most of the states have framed comprehensive laws for the prevention and control of certain important infectious diseases, including:

  • the Madhya Pradesh Cattle Diseases Act 1934;
  • the Tamil Nadu Rinderpest Act 1940;
  • the Bengal Diseases of Animals Act 1944;
  • the Assam Cattle Diseases Act 1948; and
  • the Orissa Animal Contagious Diseases Act 1959.

The main objectives of these acts are to control the spread of notified infectious diseases and to curtail the infection by vaccination, treatment and destruction of infected livestock. The Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act 2009 aims to provide for:

  • the prevention, control and eradication of infectious and contagious diseases affecting animals;
  • the prevention of outbreaks or spread of such diseases from one state to another;
  • to meet the international obligations of India for facilitating import and export of animals and animal products; and
  • for matters connected therewith or any incident thereto.

Animal movement restrictions

What are the restrictions on the movement of animals within your country?

There are certain conditions regarding the transportation of animals that are dealt with under Rule 96 and Rule 98 of the Transport of Animal (Amendment) Rules 2001. Rule 96, lays down that before transportation of any animal, a valid certification has to be procured from any animal welfare organisation, duly authorised by the Animal Welfare Board of India for the purpose of certifying that all the rules and orders pertaining to the said animals, as notified by the state and central government, have been duly complied with. Under Rule 98, animals should only be transported when they are healthy. Any unhealthy or unfit animals should be examined by a veterinary doctor to ensure that it is free from any infectious disease. Such diseased animals should be kept separately from other animals during treatment.

Under the said Rules there are different rules for transportation of different categories of animals.

Import restrictions

Describe any restrictions on import of food animals.

The Livestock Importation Act 1898, amended in 2001, is the governing act for the import of animals into India. The central government has the authority to regulate, restrict or prohibit the entry by sea, land or air into India of any livestock affected or that is liable to be affected by diseases and disorders, and the importation of fodder, dung, clothing, harness, etc, pertaining to such livestock.

The Act has been amended to include meat and meat products including fresh, chilled and frozen meat, tissue, organs of poultry, pig, sheep, goat; egg and egg powder, milk and milk products; and bovine and ovine products, etc. The central government occasionally lists the animals covered under said Act in the Gazette of India (the central government’s official gazette).

No livestock or livestock products may be imported into India without a valid sanitary import permit. All such products with a valid permit may be brought into India only through seaports or airports where Animal Quarantine and Certification Services (AQCS) stations are situated. These stations are located in the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. When livestock products arrive at the checkpoint, they will be checked by the AQCS officer-in-charge or any other veterinary officer duly appointed and, if approved, will be allowed into the country.

Slaughter legislation

What are the regulations related to livestock slaughtering?

India is the second-largest exporter of beef and the fifth-largest producer of beef in the world. Most of the meat comes from buffalo and not cows (the Constitution calls for the protection and preservation of cows). According to data from the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, 24 out of 29 states have imposed restrictions and penalties of varying degrees on the slaughter of cows. The slaughtering of cows is banned in some states, including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001, were framed to regulate livestock slaughtering. Rule 3 puts a few restrictions on what conditions an animal can be slaughtered. Also, it states that animals should be slaughtered only in recognised or licensed houses.

Pest control requirements

Outline the regulatory regime relating pest control and pesticides, and other management regimes in relation to disease and pests in plants and animals.

The importation, manufacturing, sale and distribution of pesticides are regulated under the Insecticides Act 1968 (amended in 2000) and Insecticides Rules 1971. There is a provision for the registration of pesticides at central government level and licensing for manufacturing and sale of pesticides after registration. Registration is granted only after the efficacy of the pesticide and its safety in relation to human beings and animals can be assured. Samples are drawn for analysis on a regular basis to check quality thereof. As per the rules on insecticides, the labels and leaflets form an integral part of containers of every pesticide and are approved by the registration committee. These form identification marks for every pesticide.

Another regulation, the Destructive Insects and Pests Act 1914, provides for measures against entry of pests and diseases from other countries into India. Suitable provisions also exist in the Act for preventing the spread of pests and diseases from one state to another within the country. For implementing the provisions relating to the prevention of the entry of injurious pests and diseases, a chain of plant quarantine and fumigation stations has been established at all airports, seaports and land frontiers. The state governments have also passed suitable legislation for dealing with epidemics in plant diseases and pests.

Business organisation

Typical organisation

How are agricultural operations typically organised in your jurisdiction?

In India, there are many circumstances where the individual farmers have smallholdings for carrying out agricultural activities.

A cooperative body is one of the forms of business organisation that farmers collectively take up to start their businesses (eg, the dairy cooperative, Amul). Agricultural operations are also conducted under partnerships, private companies and public organisations.

There are certain companies that are wholly owned by the central government under the central public sector enterprises (PSEs). The National Seeds Corporation is an example of a PSE that undertakes production of foundation and certified seeds.

Contract farming has also been prevalent in various parts of India for centuries. With the economic liberalisation policies of the central government, various multinational companies are also entering into contracts for marketing of horticultural produce and providing technologies and capital, thereby giving a boost to contract farming.

Outline any restrictions on foreign ownership of agricultural operations or businesses other than farming operations.

See question 11.

Agricultural workers, immigration, and health and safety

Worker rights

Describe any specific rules or laws governing the rights of workers or employees for agricultural operations.

Legislation relating to protection of workers is the main pillar for any progressive country. The central government has passed various laws throughout the years in order to recognise and promote legitimate interests of agricultural workers in the light of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on Equal Remuneration and Convention on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) and ILO Conventions on Forced Labour among others.

The crucial legislative measures available to safeguard agriculture workers’ rights are the following.

Plantations Labour Act 1951

This Act is for the welfare of labour and to control the conditions of worker in plantations. It provides the responsibilities of employer with regards to his or her labour and penalties in case of contravention of provisions of the Act. The state governments are empowered to make rules.

Minimum Wages Act 1948

This provides for fixation and enforcement of minimum wages in respect of scheduled employment and to prevent exploitation of workers.

Trade Unions Act 1926

This allows workers to form an organisation or group to seek to promote and protect their interests through the mode of collective bargaining.

Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act 1970

The Act was enacted to regulate employment of contract labour employed directly, with regard to the working conditions and certain other benefits to be provided to the workers.

The Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provision Act 1952

This aims to provide financial security for the future of workers after their retirement and for their dependants in case of early death.

The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976

The purpose of this Act is to provide for the abolition of bonded labour system with a view to preventing the economic and physical exploitation of the weaker sections of the people and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Other relevant enactments are the Kerala Agricultural Workers’ Act 1974 and the Equal Remuneration Act 1976.

Immigration regulation

How is farmworker immigration regulated in your jurisdiction?

Farm worker immigration is a crucial issue that has been protected and covered under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1979. The purpose of this Act is to regulate the employment of interstate migrant workmen and to protect them, as well as providing for their conditions of service. It also provides for the licensing and registration of the establishment that employs the interstate migrant workers. In addition, provisions are given relating to wages, welfare and other facilities to be provided to interstate migrant workmen.

Work health and safety regulation

Outline the health and safety regulations relating to farmworkers in your jurisdiction.

In India various laws have been enacted and amended by the central government with regard to the health and safety regulations relating to farm workers. The relevant provisions of two acts are given below.

The Dangerous Machines (Regulation) Act 1968

This applies to dangerous machines that are defined under the Act and extends its applicability to the agriculture sector. The Act contains a provision wherein it is stated that no person shall manufacture, or commence or carry business as a manufacturer or dealer of, any dangerous machine unless he or she holds a valid licence issued in this respect by the controller.

A manufacturer is also obligated to ensure that every part of a dangerous machine conforms to prescribed standards.

The Insecticides Act 1968

This contains control measures relating to hazards in the use of insecticides, which are also applicable to the agriculture sector. The Act stipulates provisions regarding the constitution of the Central Insecticides Board to advise the central government and state governments on the risk to human beings or animals affected by the use of insecticides and the safety measures necessary to prevent such risk.

International trade

Import and export regulation

How are the export and import of agricultural products (animal and non-animal) regulated in your jurisdiction?

India is a signatory to the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AOA) and its commitments to AOA have resulted in reducing the applied tariff duties pertaining to the importation of agricultural goods and the removal of quantitative restrictions on the import and export of agricultural products.

In India, the export and import of agricultural products is regulated by the following laws:

  • Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act 1992;
  • Foreign Trade (Regulation) Rules 1993;
  • Foreign Trade (Exemption) Order 1993; and
  • India’s Export Import Policy, issued by Directorate General of Foreign Trade.

An import-export code (a unique 10-digit number) and a licence from the Directorate General for Foreign Trade must be obtained with regards to the import and export of goods such as seeds, plants, animals and insecticides.

Further, the FSSAI issues clearances for imported food articles, which includes agricultural products.

Provisions for the importation of animals or livestock in India are covered under the Live-stock Importation Act 1898 and the regulations framed there under. The Act has been amended by the Livestock Importation (Amendment) Act 2001 and attempts to prevent the ingress of any ‘Exotic Livestock Diseases’ through importation of livestock and related products.

The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries regulates the functioning of animal quarantine and the Ministry of Agriculture regulates plant quarantine.

The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries routinely checks and monitors the importation of animal products into India. A sanitary import permit from this department must be obtained to import animal products into the country.

Similarly, phytosanitary certification must be obtained from the Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage for importing plant products into the country.

Tariffs and quotas

May tariffs, quotas or similar measures be put in place?

Rates of custom duty are outlined under Customs Tariff Act 1975. The first and second schedules of this Act provide for specific rates of import duty and export duty. The central government also occasionally issues exemption notifications of lower applied rates. India is a signatory to the AOA and the average tariff on agricultural commodities was 115 per cent before the AOA agreement. After the agreement the tariff was reduced to approximately 34 per cent in 2007 and the current applied duties were reduced to approximately 13 per cent in 2014-2015.

Import and export treaties

What treaties apply to the import and export of agricultural products in your jurisdiction?

In India, the WTO regime, free trade agreements (FTAs) and bilateral treaty investment agreements (such as preferential trade agreements and comprehensive economic partnership agreements (CEPAs)) work either to reduce or eliminate customs tariffs and non-tariff barriers on significant trade between India and its trading partners. India has negotiated a series of FTAs, largely with trading partners across Asia as well as outside Asia, as listed below.


India has entered into bilateral FTAs with Sri Lanka in 1998, Thailand in 2004, Singapore in 2005, Bhutan in 2006, Nepal in 2009, Korea in 2010, Japan in 2011 and Malaysia in 2011.

There have also been two regional trade agreements involving India that are known as the South Asian Free Trade Area (2004) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-India (2010).

Preferential trade agreements

There are preferential trade agreements between India and Afghanistan, India and Chile, and India and Mercosur.


An agreement between India and South Korea was signed in 2009, and another between Japan and India in 2011.

Intellectual property

Plant breeder rights

How are plant breeders’ property rights protected in your jurisdiction?

Plant breeders’ property rights are governed by the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Act 2001. The rights granted under this Act to the breeder of a new variety of plant are exclusive rights over the propagating material and harvested material of the new variety for a stipulated term. For example:

  • the term of protection in case of trees and vines is 18 years from the date of registration of the variety;
  • for varieties notified under section 5 of the Seeds Act 1966, the term is 15 years from the date of the notification by the central government; and
  • in the remaining cases it is 15 years from the date of registration of the variety.

The breeder becomes the exclusive marketer and can also license the variety to others.

Access to plant varieties

How is farmers’ access to crop varieties and plant technologies addressed in your jurisdiction?

There are various research organisations, such as the Indian Council for Agriculture Research, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and other governmental and NGOs that conduct research and continuously revise data relating to agriculture, including plant varieties and plant technologies, which farmers can easily access.

Other intellectual property

What other intellectual property considerations apply to agribusiness in your jurisdiction?

The other intellectual property considerations that apply to agribusiness are patents, trademarks, geographical indications and design.

Environmental issues

Regulatory agencies

Describe the regulatory agencies that have a role in managing the environmental impact of agricultural production in your jurisdiction.

The Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture at central and state level, and the pollution control board of the respective states, are the primary regulatory agencies that play an important role in managing the environmental impact of agriculture. It is important to note that NGOs also have an equally important role in regulating the environmental impact on agriculture.

Water and air pollution regulation

Describe how water and air pollution is regulated in relation to primary agriculture in your jurisdiction.

Water and air pollution is regulated in India by the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981, respectively, with the assistance from the authorities appointed by the central government or by a state government.

Various studies have revealed that the use of pesticides has had an impact on the production of farm products and the agricultural environment.

The governmental agencies involved in controlling pollution have implemented various schemes in order to educate the farmers on the subject with a view to increasing productivity and reducing pollution. Another relevant piece of legislation is the Environment Protection Act 1986 that lays down basic principles for protection of the environment.

Waste regulation

Describe how liquid and other waste is regulated in relation to primary agriculture in your jurisdiction.

In agricultural activities, liquid waste is the result of water becoming contaminated through fertiliser and pesticide residue. Other agri-waste includes unused parts of plants and waste left over after harvesting primary crops. Such agri-waste can be utilised by way of generating bioenergy, biofertiliser, being converted into ethanol as a substitute to fossil fuel.

Some of the government programmes and schemes to encourage the utilisation of agri-waste include the Programme on Energy from Urban, Industrial and Agricultural Wastes/Residues, and the Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme of National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture programme.

The central government is encouraging the use of organic fertilisers or biofertilisers by undertaking different schemes and programmes such as the:

  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture;
  • Traditional Farming Improvement Programme;
  • National Agricultural Development Programme;
  • Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture;
  • National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm;
  • National Biogas and Manure Management Programme;
  • Network Project on Organic Farming of the Indian Council for Agriculture Research; and
  • National Programme on Organic Production of APEDA.