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FOOD PROCESSING

India & ASEAN can play major role in stopping food wastage, says Badal
Saturday, 27 January, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
By 2020, the demand for food will increase by 20 per cent. To stop food wastage, value-added food processing must be ensured. India and the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) can play an important role in this. This was stated by Harsimrat Kaur Badal, minister of food processing industries, Government of India, at the ASEAN-India Business Meet and Expo, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in cooperation with the ministries of finance and external affairs in New Delhi recently.

She added, “There is no doubt that the engine of growth, globally is shifting from the west to the east.” Talking about the blue economy, the minister stated that India had a nearly 7,000km-long coastline, and the government had already allocated funds for the development of the same.

ASEAN and India are a part of the Indo-Pacific region and can take a lead in two very pertinent areas to ensure sustainability through specific efforts. These are agriculture and the blue economy. Along with agriculture, the sustainable exploitation of aquatic resources and co-operation potential for exploiting ocean energy are among the key areas for collective progress.

Michael Williamson, head of office (acting), sub-regional office for South and South-West Asia, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) said that it is important to recognise the concept of blue economy, as it will help in forming a more holistic approach to sustainable development.

It is also important for the welfare and livelihood of the small and marginal coastal farmers. Countries can tap into other sources for energy, which are very important for India and ASEAN, and to address the sustainable agriculture goals of the blue economy, countries will have to form new policies.

Alounkeo Kittikhoum, minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, Lao People's Democratic Republic, said that the country hoped that India can help the ASEAN countries in improving agricultural productivity, enhancing farmers’ income and sharing of farm technology. “There is a need for more collaborative approach towards enhanced maritime issues like search and rescue, maritime security, connectivity, illegal trafficking, among other,” he added.

Devendra Kumar Singh, chairman, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APED) said, “In the last few years, food processing has been moving up in India.”

“There has been a gradual shift towards value added healthy food and India and ASEAN can collaborate for processing and export of such value added food products,” he added.

Singh said that India and ASEAN can collaborate for enhanced productivity, facilitating business-to-business (B2B) interactions and mutual recognition of trade barriers, as well as setting up of standards across the region, certification, etc.  

“For ASEAN countries, agriculture is the key engine for economic growth,” said Shinta Widjaja Kamdani, vice-chairman, international relations, KADIN Indonesia, and owner and chief executive officer, Sintesa Group. The agenda, going forward, should explore joint ventures between India and ASEAN on technology partnership.

Anil Khaitan, chairman and managing director, Sunil Healthcare Limited said that 1.8 billion people in ASEAN can have a sustainable share in the blue economy.

“This can only be achieved by collaborative agreements between the ASEAN countries,” he added.

Khaitan, who is also president, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that there was a need for science-based approach to the blue economy.

“Oceans are important for the economies of coastal countries and we must plan and execute our economic development with special recognition for the coastal areas,” he added.  

Salil Singhal, co-chairman, CII Agriculture Council, and chairman and managing director, PI Industries Limited, stressed the need for ASEAN nations to work towards sustainable agriculture and, at the same time, protect the rights of small coastal farmers.
 
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