INDIA - India ASEAN cooperation in agriculture and forestry sectors form an important part to ensure long-term food security in the region, Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East), Indian ministry of external affairs said at the ASEAN India Cooperation in Food Security, Agriculture Technology And Food Engineering for Delhi Dialogue VII recently.
Wadhwa said that the Visions Statement adopted during the 2012 Commemorative Summit recognized the need to ensure long-term food security in the region and an efforts to strengthen cooperation in the agriculture sector between ASEAN and India.
During the last ASEAN-India summit in November 2014 at Nay Pyi Taw, the President of Myanmar floated the idea of having a regional food mechanism.
ASEAN and India will intensify their collaborative efforts towards this end. Recognizing that agriculture and food security is one of the key components of a nation’s overall growth plan, Wadhwa emphasized that it is not just the growth in GDP but the ability to ensure food and nutrition security at affordable and stable prices in an ecologically sustainable paradigm that is fundamental to long term global peace and stability.
Agriculture is particularly important in the context of our region as most of our population depend on it for survival, Wadhwa said. Highlighting the importance of agriculture for ASEAN, Wadhwa mentioned that majority of ASEAN countries are agrarian economy and rely heavily on the agro food sector for economic growth, trade and investments.
A number of ASEAN countries are among the top exporters globally for products like rice, fruits, vegetables and coffee and the region is also the global leader in industrial crop such as palm oil, rubber, cashew nuts and pepper.
Further ASEAN and India face similar challenges in agriculture such as shrinking land base, dwindling water resource, shortage of farm labour and increasing cost and uncertainties associated with volatility in international markets.
Wadhwa stressed that diversification towards higher value crops and livestock remains the best way not only to improve farm incomes and accelerate growth, but also to reduce stress on natural resource which forms the farmer’s production base.
Indian and ASEAN have, so far identified four components for cooperation, the first of which is enhancing co-operation in key areas for mutual interest to improve productivity and meet the challenges of food security. Last but not the least opportunities are provided for farmers from ASEAN countries and India to learn and develop more efficient farming practices and management skills through information sharing via exchange programmes that are funded under the ASEAN India Cooperation Fund, Wadhwa revealed.
Vijay Kalantri, President All India Association of Industries and Vice Chairman World Trade Centre, Mumbai said ASEAN and India must work together to ensure food security in the region and ensure active trading and easy accessibility of Asia’s main staple-rice.
With resource such as water, energy and labour becoming scarcer it is paramount to produce more with less. There is little doubt that we need to come up with a more sustainable and environment friendly way of growing foods. ASEAN India joint efforts need to concentrate in some of these aspects in order to build sustainable agri and eco system.
Dr. Ashok K Vishandass, chairman, commission for agriculture costs and prices ministry of agriculture, Dr. Asmi Raza professor of economics, University of Delhi and Prasant Kumar Satapathy, deputy general manager, (Genl. /quality control) Institute of Food Security, Food Corporation of India also attended the event.