BIMSTEC members should enhance engagement in agri-sector: India

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New Delhi, Aug 31 (IANS) India, which hosted the 8th meeting of agriculture experts of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries, on Tuesday called for enhancing the engagement in agriculture and allied sectors amongst the BIMSTEC member states.

Highlighting the UN Food System Summit 2021 and the transformations that are happening in the agriculture and food systems globally, India’s Secretary, Agricultural Research & Education and Indian Council of Agricultural Research Director General, Dr Trilochan Mohapatra sought enhanced engagement and deepening of cooperation in agriculture and allied sectors amongst the BIMSTEC member states by encouraging the exchange of knowledge, germplasm, students, and experts.

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He also emphasised addressing biosafety and biosecurity concerns and promoting digital agriculture along with the trade of technologies for developing resilient agriculture, food systems and value chains, a release said here.

Mohapatra chaired the daylong virtual meeting with Myanmar’s Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Ministry’s Deputy Director General, Planning, Dr Thanda Kyi, as the co-chair. Experts in agricultural and people from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand participated in the meeting, the release said.

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The BIMSTEC member states appreciated the greater engagement of India offering six slots of scholarships each for Masters and PhD programmes in agriculture and its other initiatives for capacity development and training including the development of seed sectors.

The cooperation in the areas of high impact transboundary diseases of livestock and poultry, aquatic animal diseases and biosecurity in aquaculture, and digitalisation to promote precision farming was also discussed in the meeting.

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The BIMSTEC provides a unique link between south and southeast Asia with five countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka from South Asia and Myanmar and Thailand from southeast Asia coming together on one platform for cooperation in 14 key economic and social sectors of the economy.

The BIMSTEC was founded in 1997 with an ambition to pursue mutual trade, connectivity, and cultural, technical, and economic development in the region. Initially, six sectors- trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism, and fisheries were included for sectoral cooperation, which was later expanded to 14 areas of cooperation.

Agriculture is one of the most important of the 14 sectors as about 1.7 billion plus people i.e., 22 per cent of the global population lives in BIMSTEC countries and agriculture & allied activities are central to the economic and social development of the region, the release added.

–IANS

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