DURBAN – Officials from South Africa and India held a bilateral meeting in New Delhi, India, last week to strengthen co-operation in the fields of agriculture, forestry and fisheries between the two developing nations.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana, and Indian Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Parshottam Rupala, met with a focus on crop and animal production, research, food and nutrition security, agro-forestry, aquaculture and agro-processing.
The department’s spokesperson, Khaye Nkwanyana, said the bilateral meeting was a culmination of technical discussions that took place at the fourth Joint Working Group on Agriculture between the two BRICS nations.
Last week, rejuvenating the partnership between India and South Africa took centre stage as President Cyril Ramaphosa was welcomed to New Delhi as a State guest of honour for India’s 70th Republic Day celebrations.
Nkwanyana said both department ministers recognised the importance of agriculture to the economies of their respective countries, and committed to continue deepening bilateral trade in agricultural commodities.
South Africa gained market access for persimmons and mangoes in 2016 and work is now at an advanced stage to gain market access for avocados, litchis, pickled sheep and goat skins.
“The ministers recognised the signing of the memorandum of understanding on agricultural research and education between the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in 2018, and urged both institutions to expedite the finalisation of a work plan to outline a programme of action on co-operation in research and education,” Nkwanyana said.
The areas to be covered in the work plan include crop breeding, silk production, agricultural biotechnology, post-harvest technologies and agriculture education and training.
The ministers also agreed to explore opportunities in the area of the bamboo value chain.
“Further agreements were made on working together on mutual food and security initiatives directed towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, with specific reference to addressing poverty and hunger,” Nkwanyana said.
Both ministers further noted the importance of the soil-water-energy relationship and committed to intensify initiatives in this nexus to address sustainable agricultural systems.
They also discussed the importance of the use of extension services in the Fourth Industrial Revolution to ensure revolutionary agricultural development.
They agreed on convening an inaugural bilateral seminar on extension. This event will be a platform to share best practices and set a new bilateral agenda on extension and technology transfer.
“South Africa will host the first seminar, where a joint action plan will be crafted. In strengthening the marketing of commodities, the National Agricultural Marketing Council of South Africa and the National Institute of Agriculture Marketing of India will sign a Memorandum of Understanding. The ministers also endorsed participation in fairs and exhibitions organised by South Africa and India,” Nkwanyana said.
During Ramaphosa’s visit to India, he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recognised the importance of increased bilateral naval co-operation and closer synergy within the context of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium which, by keeping the sea lanes secure against illegal actors, will ensure unhindered passage for trade and continued prosperity of the entire Indian Ocean Region.
They agreed to enhance co-operation in the field of the Oceans Economy and to co-operate in multilateral forums on the Blue Economy, including in the framework of Indian Ocean Rim Association.
– THE MERCURY