Food security corridor to attract more than $7 billion in investments and create more than 200,000 jobs in India.
With a wide variety of food products and seller technologies on offer, India and the UAE have taken aim to treble the volume of trade in their food and agritech sectors in the next five years, top officials said at the inaugural UAE-India Food Security Summit 2020 in Dubai.
Underlining the importance of the two-day hybrid summit's theme, Pavan Kapoor, Indian Ambassador to UAE, reiterated that the India-UAE Food Corridor has attracted proposed investments worth $5 billion from the UAE - mainly in India's mega food parks, farming logistics, warehousing and fruit & vegetable hubs.
Kapoor said this was the third event focused on food trade between the two countries in four months. "India wants to work with the UAE as a reliable partner in food security" as demonstrated by the movement of crucial cargo by air throughout the pandemic. He said India had amended its Essential Commodities Act and allowed exports of critical food items like cereals, pulses and edible oils.
Highlighting the "immense and untapped potential" of the food sector in bilateral business, Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai, said that the UAE-India partnership in food trade can strengthen food security in the entire Middle East and North Africa region.
According to Dr Ahmed Al Banna, Ambassador of UAE to India, the proposed Food Corridor projects in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat will lead to tripling the export of agricultural and food products from India to the UAE, from the current level of $2.2 billion to about $7 billion in a span of three years.
“Considering our strategic relationship, I strongly believe that this is a very opportune time for UAE and India to escalate food security cooperation. UAE-India food security summit is an important one, one that is close to both of our nations. Even in the crucial times of COVID-19, the relations have become stronger,” said Dr Al Banna. “I congratulate the Indian government for the recently introduced production linked incentives scheme, and the 10 key sectors approved by the Indian Cabinet,” he said.
India's Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme is slated to provide incentives on incremental sales from products made at manufacturing and processing units across the country.
But it's not just exports that will benefit from the close synergy between India and the UAE, which is India′s third biggest trade partner for the seventh consecutive year.
Juma Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary at the UAE Ministry of Economy, said that the corridor will benefit more than 2 million farmers in India and create an additional 200,000 jobs across the country. Projects under consideration for the corridor include 8 food processing units to be set up in Madhya Pradesh, backed by UAE funding, he said.
“India is and has always been an important partner of the UAE. Eight food parks are currently being evaluated for a proposed project. We are looking to collaborate on numerous projects on the India-UAE food corridor,” Al Kait said.
UAE's shipping and infrastructure behemoth DP World is meanwhile exploring synergies for offering integrated supply chain solutions, while the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) has set up an agriculture trading platform called Agriota, which will directly link farmers in India with food companies in the UAE in an effort to boost food imports from India.
The trading platform will enable India's rural farmers, and particularly from the state of Punjab - considered the food basket of India - to connect directly with UAE importers, said Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Minister of Sports, Youth Services & NRI Affairs of the government of Punjab. With more than 35 mega food parks across India, Sodhi invited investments into the western state of Punjab, where the government has earmarked more than 5000 hectares of land for organic farming, incentives and a dedicated desk at 'Invest Punjab' to cater to investors from the UAE.
On the sidelines of the summit, GI-tagged Kashmiri saffron was launched for the first time in the UAE market by Navin K. Choudhary, Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary (Agriculture), and Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai. Thanks to the opening up of key commodities markets in Kashmir, its famed saffron will now be sold at supermarkets of Al Maya Group in the UAE. “We are super excited to bring India's saffron in the UAE, and it is more important to mention that we are delighted to introduce this at Al Maya Supermarkets across the UAE,” said Kamal Vachani, Group Director of Al Maya.
A delegation of farmers, businessmen and government officials from Jammu and Kashmir, led by Chaudhary, were among the more than 200 participants at the Food Security Summit, with an aim to promote the wide variety of horticulture produce from the union territory in global markets and tap the strong potential of the Gulf markets.