India and Africa have reaffirmed commitment to cooperate for increasing agricultural output and achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition by 2015, said Ms. Preneet Kaur, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India at the ‘Valedictory Session: The Way Forward for Agribusiness & Food Processing Sector’ at the ‘Asia-Africa AgriBusiness Forum 2014’ organized by FICCI in association with the Ministry of Agriculture & Food Processing Industries, Government of India.
She said, “Under India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) mechanism, we have jointly emphasized the importance of harnessing the latest scientific research for raising productivity and for the conservation of land and the environment in order to ensure food security for our people and to bring down the rising cost of food items so as to make food affordable for all. In this context, we have agreed to collaborate in the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).”
Ms. Kaur said, “Our cooperation with Africa has assumed a strong development-oriented approach, including in the field of capacity building, skills development, technology and knowledge transfer, local employment generation and environment protection. The Pan-Africa e-Network Project, resource mapping and meteorological and other services, food testing laboratories, vocational training centres in food processing are but a few examples of our cooperation with Africa and agribusiness sectors.”
“A number of projects in these sectors have also been undertaken by private entrepreneurs and investors. The challenge ahead is to realize the full potential of the extant business opportunities that are available in this sector. This alone will cater to the needs of the majority of over two billion people of Africa and India. This Forum should address this challenge and promote business-to-business cooperation in agriculture and agribusiness sectors,” she added.
Mr. Ashish Bahuguna, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, said that in the agriculture sector there are three major issues which must be addressed for the sector to grow. The first issue is technology enhancement, adaption and adoption which is one of the critical areas as Africa is still far behind in technology and it should take advantage of India’s expertise in this regard.
Second is sharing of best practices, which needs improvement and capacity building and third is marketing where different strategies and different players are needed for value addition to products, quality of products and consumers have to be made a part of the value chain.
Dr. S Ayyappan, Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), highlighted some of the challenges that the agriculture sector is facing such as input management, food safety, food security, technological advancement, financial support and capacity building. He added that PPP partnerships are coming up in a significant way.
Mr. Vikramjit Singh Sahney, President, SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, announced that the ‘Asia-Africa AgriBusiness Forum’ will be held annually and hosted by FICCI. The Forum will be a platform to discuss and review the outcome of the deliberation and the way forward. Agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy and South-South Cooperation is fundamental.
Dr. William D Dar, Director General, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT), said that value addition is necessary for building agri business. PPP strategy has been able to leverage the agriculture and the allied food processing industry.
H.E Eng. Wassfi Hassan El-Srehin, Secretary-General, African-Asian Rural Development Organisation (AARDO), said that diversification of agriculture into new areas is an encouraging step. However, there is a need to look at some of the issues such as number of youth joining the agriculture sector, need for technical know-how mismatch of demand and supply, food security and value addition.
While presenting the vote of thanks, Mr. Siddharth Chaudhary, Managing Director, Radikal Foods Limited, said that the Forum had received an overwhelming response from the participants and the deliberations had been fruitful. Many issues were raised and the participating Asian and African nations suggested various approaches which can be adopted to resolve them.
On the occasion, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was also signed between FICCI and AARDO.