India, on Thursday, urged BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) nations to evolve a comprehensive regional strategy to strengthen cooperation for the transformation of agriculture.
The BIMSTEC countries should also adopt a conducive agricultural food system and a healthy diet for all, Union Minister for Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar said at the second meeting of the agriculture ministers of BIMSTEC nations. The meeting, hosted virtually by India, was attended by the agriculture ministers of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Referring to the importance of millet as a nutritious food and the efforts made by India to promote millet and its products during the International Year of Millets -2023, Tomar urged the BIMSTEC countries to actively participate in India’s initiative to promote millet as a food. Natural and ecological farming should also be promoted to conserve agricultural biodiversity and reduce the use of chemicals.
Tomar pointed out that along with digital farming and precision farming, initiatives under the ‘One Health’ approach were also taking shape in India. He emphasised the importance of cooperation in agriculture and allied sectors to ensure food security, nutrition, environmental sustainability and livelihood support, for which the need was to increase technical and economic cooperation to deal with the challenges of climate change, agro-biodiversity, microbial preventive resistance under ‘One Health’ approach and other programmes.
The Indian minister reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement at the 5th BIMSTEC Summit held in Colombo in March on enhancing regional cooperation between BIMSTEC nations for food security, peace and prosperity in the region. At the same time, he expressed India’s commitment to promoting agricultural productivity, food security and nutrition, sustainability, research and development and enhancing cooperation with BIMSTEC in the areas of agri-business, climate change management and digital agriculture.
The meeting adopted an action plan for strengthening BIMSTEC Agricultural Cooperation (2023-2027). An MoU between the BIMSTEC Secretariat and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) was signed and approval was given to bring fisheries and livestock sub-sectors under the agricultural working group.