There is huge scope of collaboration between India and Bangladesh in the Agriculture sector. This was stated by Mr Piyush Goyal, Minister for Commerce & Industry and Railways, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Government of India while addressing the Inaugural Session of the India Bangladesh Digital Conference on Agriculture Sector. According to the Minister, there is a need to improve the agricultural productivity in both countries from the current level of 4.5 tonnes per hectare to 10 tonnes per hectare. As both countries face similar challenges and conditions, the solutions are also common to both countries.
The Minister stressed on the need to work together in areas such as farm mechanization, food processing and fisheries. He was of the view that cooperation in the agriculture sector can help overcome the economic difficulties that both countries were facing. He stated that India was committed to ensuring barrier free trade between India and Bangladesh. According to the Minister, India had already removed import duties on agricultural imports from Bangladesh. On the issue of export restrictions on certain agricultural items such as onions, the Minister stated that India was looking at ways of building up a buffer stock of these commodities before lifting the restrictions to ensure a regular supply to Bangladesh.
In his address, Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, Agriculture Minister, Government of Bangladesh stated that India could not only help with farm mechanisation, it could also help with training farmers on these machines. It could also consider manufacturing these machines locally in Bangladesh. Other areas where India could help include seed production including hybrid seeds, cold chain technology, agro and food processing, and&D activities, among others. He also suggested that Indian Industry could collaborate with Bangladeshi companies on the technology front so as to increase the shelf life of freshly grown fruits and vegetables.
Mr Tipu Munshi, Commerce Minister, Government of Bangladesh highlighted the need to remove non-tariff barriers to trade, especially for items critical to Bangladeshi industry such as jute and cotton. He also stressed on the need to improve connectivity and trade infrastructure to provide a boost to bilateral trade.
Mr Vikram Doraiswami, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh stated that the two countries have common problems in the agricultural sector as well as common solutions. In addition to areas such as farm mechanisation and food processing, he suggested that the two countries look at cooperating in IoT and Precision Farming.
Mr T V Narendran, President-Designate, CII and CEO & Managing Director, Tata Steel Ltd. highlighted the role that start-ups could play in providing innovative solutions to the agricultural sector in the two countries.
Dr Pawan Goenka, Chairman, CII National Mission on Aatma Nirbhar Bharat and Managing Director & CEO, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. highlighted the need to adopt farm mechanization to improve yield in crops such as paddy. He also stated that Indian Industry would be willing to invest in food processing units set up in dedicated food processing parks in Bangladesh. Fisheries and aquaculture, according to Mr. Goenka was another area of cooperation.
Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII stated that considering the similarity in nature of agriculture between India and Bangladesh, there exist immense opportunities for collaboration particularly on the input side, post-harvest management, and technology transfer as well as agro processing and value addition.
22 December, 2020