India showcases the massive potential for its food and agritech sectors at Dubai conference on the back of biggest and boldest reforms to its farming economy.
According to Pavan Kapoor, the Indian Ambassador to UAE, the relevance of food security for both India and the UAE has been further accentuated during the coronavirus pandemic, and the summit will bring key stakeholders from both countries on one platform to share their experiences, deliberate on solutions and explore ways to further increase the collaboration.
With food security emerging as a key pillar of the forward-looking vision of the United Arab Emirates and India increasingly focusing on agritech and other tools to dramatically curb a colossal wastage of agri products on the back of the biggest reforms to its massive farm economy, it's natural that the two countries have found common ground to build a solid partnership in these sectors.
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In November 2018, the National Strategy for Food Security was presented during the UAE Government's second Annual Meetings, with its goals focusing on “facilitating the global food trade, diversifying food import sources identifying alternative supply schemes, and covering three to five sources for each major food category.”
In line with its National Food Security Strategy 2051, the UAE has been investing robustly in developing food security, and its potential investment into India in the sector includes agricultural produce as well as logistics for storage and transport. Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and the resultant disruption of global food and agricultural product supply networks, those strategies have taken on an even more immediate and urgent meaning - and a high-profile India-UAE summit in Dubai that begins today aims to explore ways of further boosting bilateral collaboration in the food security sector.
“The UAE-India partnership in the food sector has immense untapped potential, and can further strengthen 'Food Security' not only in UAE but the entire MENA region, besides increasing food exports from India. UAE's investments into Food Parks and the entire supply chain will improve certainty of supplies and improve productivity and efficiency in the Indian food sector landscape. Dr.Aman Puri, CG India Dubai
The UAE-India Food Security Summit is being organised in Dubai by the Consulate General of India in Dubai, in association with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and Invest India.
The two-day summit will see discussions and presentations on food processing, equipment and technology, development of logistics and integrated cold chains, investments into food parks, agro-processing clusters, infrastructure development for fishing harbours and showcase milestones by Indian companies in the field of aquaculture, hydroponics, saline irrigation and vertical farming.
“The UAE-India partnership in the food sector has immense untapped potential, and can further strengthen 'Food Security' not only in UAE but the entire MENA region, besides increasing food exports from India. UAE's investments into Food Parks and the entire supply chain will improve certainty of supplies and improve productivity and efficiency in the Indian food sector landscape. With this summit, we hope to take this partnership to the next level,” said Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai.
“In the post-COVID world, we should not be thinking of getting back to business as usual. This is the time to reflect, reset and refresh our approach to doing business. We need to collaborate more, leverage technology and maximise productivity and efficiency,” he said.
While the event will bring together a wide range of experts and officials from both countries - including Pavan Kapoor, Ambassador of India to UAE, Dr Ahmed Al Banna, Ambassador of UAE to India, Mekapati Goutham Reddy, Industries and Commerce minister of Andhra Pradesh, Maj Gen (Retd) Sharafuddin Sharaf, UAE-India Business Council Chairman and Sharaf Group Vice Chairman, and Invest India CEO Deepak Bagla, the conference is also breaking new ground with the participation of a 20-member delegation of businessmen and government officials from Jammu and Kashmir.
Majid Aslam Wafai, the president of the Jammu & Kashmir Apple Cold Store Association (JKPICCA), told PTI that the delegation was in Dubai to explore and understand Gulf markets as the Indian government was keen to see the Kashmiri apple in the Gulf food basket. “We had a very fruitful meeting with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, which was headed on our side by Principal Secretary Navin K Chaudhary. We have received positive feedback during this meeting and we hope to leverage this to ensure supply to this part of the world,” Wafai said.
According to Pavan Kapoor, the Indian Ambassador to UAE, the relevance of food security for both India and the UAE has been further accentuated during the coronavirus pandemic, and the summit will bring key stakeholders from both countries on one platform to share their experiences, deliberate on solutions and explore ways to further increase the collaboration. With more than 200 prominent businessmen and representatives of public sector organisations, business enterprises, investors and institutions from both UAE and India taking part in the summit, the event is not only a reflection of the close synergy between India and the UAE in strategic sectors, but is also a lucrative opportunity for investors to unlock the immense potential of the sectors under focus.
The UAE real estate giant Emaar, for instance, has been on the forefront of developing a $7 billion food corridor between the UAE and India, coordinating with the Indian government for the potential investment in which several other UAE entities will also play a key role.
According to Piyush Goyal, the Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Emaar Group is coordinating with other entities to invest up to $5 billion in mega food parks and similar facilities in various Indian cities, as well as $2 billion in contract farming, sourcing of agro commodities and related infrastructure. The proposed mega food park projects are in locations such as Kutch in Gujarat, and Aurangabad in Maharashtra. Projects also include another food park in Pawarkheda (Madhya Pradesh), a fruits and vegetables hub in Nashik (Maharashtra), a logistics and warehouse hub in Itarsi (Madhya Pradesh), and another warehousing hub in Bhiwandi (Maharashtra). The possibility of eight other food parks is also under consideration, he said.
With foreign investors zeroing in on the agritech sector in India, startups and venture capital are pouring into what would have seemed an unlikely sector to invest a few years back. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government enacted bold new reforms in farming laws in September that will "remove middlemen and let farmers sell their produce directly to buyers," improving their prospects, especially in far flung areas.