India hosted the Second Agriculture Ministerial-level meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) here today under the chairmanship of the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar. Agriculture ministers of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand participated in the meeting.
While addressing the meeting through video conference, Shri Tomar urged the member countries to cooperate in developing a comprehensive regional strategy to strengthen cooperation for the transformation of agriculture. 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, he urged the member countries to adopt a conducive agricultural food system and a healthy diet for all. He asked participating countries to actively participate in India’s initiative to promote millet as a food. Shri Tomar said that natural and ecological farming should be promoted to conserve agricultural biodiversity and reduce the use of chemicals.
Shri Tomar said that along with digital farming and precision farming, initiatives under the ‘One Health’ approach are also taking shape in India. He emphasized the importance of cooperation in agriculture and allied sectors to ensure food security, nutrition, environmental sustainability and livelihood support, for which it is required to increase technical and economic cooperation to deal with the challenges of climate change, agro-biodiversity, microbial preventive resistance under the ‘One Health’ approach and other programmes.
Shri Tomar reiterated Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s statement at the 5th BIMSTEC Summit held in Colombo in March, 2022 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 promote agricultural productivity, food security and nutrition, sustainability, research and development and enhance cooperation with BIMSTEC in the areas of agri-business, climate change management, digital agriculture, etc.
The 2nd BIMSTEC Agriculture Ministerial Meeting adopted the Action Plan for Strengthening BIMSTEC Agricultural Cooperation (2023-2027). An MoU between the BIMSTEC Secretariat and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has been signed and approval has been given to bring Fisheries and Livestock sub-sectors under the Agricultural Working Group. BIMSTEC member countries appreciated India’s efforts to strengthen cooperation in agricultural research and development and for awarding six scholarships each for postgraduate and PhD programmes in agriculture.
The meeting was attended by the Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Kailash Choudhary, Secretary, Department of Agriculture Research and Education (DARE) and Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Dr. Himanshu Pathak, along with other senior officials of the Ministry.
BIMSTEC was established in the year 1997. It includes five countries of South Asia – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and two countries of South-East Asia – Myanmar and Thailand.