India-South America agriculture cooperation to get a boost

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New Delhi | Updated: September 9, 2016 7:07:32 AM

South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Colombia could extend help to India, which imports huge quantity of agricultural produce including edible oil and pulses

US-India Trade, US- India Relation, US-India Trade DeficitSouth American countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Colombia could extend help to India, which imports huge quantity of agricultural produce including edible oil and pulses. (Reuters)

India’s cooperation with South American countries, especially in the field of food and agriculture, is poised to get a boost with series of visits by senior officials from the region to the country in the next few weeks.

South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Colombia could extend help to India, which imports huge quantity of agricultural produce including edible oil and pulses. Besides, countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua and Cuba have also sought India’s technical knowhow in agriculture along with request for grain exports.

Next week, coinciding with one of the biggest ever business summit in Buenos Aires under the new government, the joint secretary for agriculture and livestock of Argentina is coming to Delhi for an official bilateral visit, followed by a visit by a high-level 30-member delegation led by minister of agriculture, livestock and supply from Brazil Blairo Maggi for exploring opportunities of cooperation between the two countries in the field of agriculture.

According to sources in the embassy of Argentina in New Delhi, “Our joint secretary for agriculture and livestock coming to Delhi on an official visit, which includes meetings with government officials and businesses to outline investment opportunities in Argentina, in line with the new government programme.”

As reported by FE earlier, high-level delegation from India will be visiting the country in September to participate in the first ever International Business and Investment Forum.

In Colombia, a lot of land, which was out of bounds because of the insurgency, will become available for cultivation after the peace agreement with FARC, expected to add 1-2 % to their GDP. Colombia has a land mass of one-third of India with a population of only 48 million. “Colombia can meet some of our requirements of vegetable oil, pulses etc. Some Indian companies such as United Phosphorus and Sonalika Tractors are already here,” diplomatic sources said.

Talking to FE, Cuba’s secretary (regional) of foreign affairs, Gerardo Peñalver Portal, said, “We import $2 billion worth of food, but we want to produce at least 50%. There is a huge potential for cooperation between India and Cuba in the agro-business sector.”

Explaining about the new economic zone Mariel Special Development Zone, in western Havana, and new investor-friendly laws, Portal stressed that there could be in several fields, including the development of renewable energy, agriculture, biotechnology and construction and technologies needed for certification of soil.

Brazil had recently offered to conduct “captive farming” of pulses to meet the growing demand in India during a recent visit of food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan to the south American country. The consumer affairs ministry is now preparing a detailed proposal on the issue.

Yet another important country for India is Ecuador, there have been talks on the expansion of the trade basket. According to Méntor Villagómez, the ambassador of Ecuador to India, “Ecuador offers a privileged location, extended production diversity, great potential in agri-business, fishery, aquaculture, forestry, mining, tourism and services and has a favorable legislation on foreign investment.”

Bolivia has already extended its support to India’s stand on food security at the WTO and is willing to open its commodities sector to investment by Indian entities, especially in the area of high-value agriculture produce. Nicaragua, on the other hand, is keen on Indian companies to invest in its gold mines and other high value minerals.

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