India and ASEAN nations today agreed to jointly work to mitigate the challenges of climate change, enhance livelihood opportunities through agro-forestry, exchange farm machineries and develop heterotic rice hybrids. They also called for joint efforts towards managing food security and price volatility besides implementing more capacity building programmes in 2018 on empowerment of ASEAN and Indian women through cooperatives. A joint declaration in this regard was made at the fourth ASEAN-India ministerial meeting held here, which was co-chaired by India’s Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and his Thailand counterpart Grisada Boonrach. Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei are the members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). “While we may take comfort and satisfaction from the road we have covered so far, the journey ahead offers limitless opportunities,” Singh said. He stressed on the need to use the current opportunities to further build upon collaborations in areas of food safety and security, agri-technology, food processing, value chains, agri-marketing and capacity building and take them to newer heights.
Singh also mentioned that a comprehensive ASEAN-India work plan for strengthening cooperation in food, agriculture and forestry is already in operation for the 2016-2020 period. Expressing satisfaction over progress made so far in agri-cooperation, India and ASEAN in their joint declaration agreed to prioritise the joint projects in three key areas.
They include: agroforestry interventions for livelihood opportunities, demonstration and exchange of farm implement and machinery and thirdly focus on genetic improvement of parental lines and development of heterotic rice hybrids. As part of the medium-term plan of action, they also underscored the importance of addressing the climate change challenge and its negative impact on food security. We look forward to cooperation on exchanging expertise as to promote enhanced resilience on natural systems and improve the adaptive capacities of people to cope with environmental hazards,” the declaration said.
They also agreed on third exchange visit in order to provide opportunities for ASEAN and Indian farmers and fishermen to learn and develop more efficient farming practices and management skills through information sharing. India and ASEAN expressed satisfaction with the progress made in execution of the plan of action decided for the 2011-2015 period and said full implementation would “help further deepen and enhance the cooperation in food, agriculture and forestry”. This would also contribute in achieving post 2015 sustainable development goals and related targets set by the UN body to achieve zero hunger. The also agreed to hold the next ASEAN-India ministerial meeting on agriculture and forestry in Brunei, Darussalam.