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U.S. and India likely to finalise new farm plan

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: A senior U.S. Embassy official on Thursday expressed confidence that India and the United States would finalise a new plan of action for boosting collaboration between the two countries in agriculture by February. "The second meeting of the Board of the U.S.-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture will be held in Delhi during the week beginning February 12. An objective of the meeting is to finalise a plan of action for collaborative work," he said.

The first meeting was held in the U.S. on December 15 and16. It identified four areas — food processing, use of agricultural by-products and bio-fuels, biotechnology, education, curriculum development and training and water management — for priority action.

The Board, set up following Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the U.S. in July, consists of senior government officials and representatives of academic institutions and industry of both countries. Each country has eight members in the Board. As part of the first meeting, the Indian delegation, led by Indian Council of Agricultural Research Director-General Mangla Rai, visited Cornell University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service at Maryland and held discussions with officials, scientists and industry representatives.

Bilateral trade

One of the main aims of the initiative will be to increase trade in agriculture between the two countries. At present, India exports agricultural products worth about $1.3 billion to the U.S. and imports products worth $300 million. There was immense scope for increasing bilateral trade, the official said.

One of the spin-offs can be greater U.S. investment in areas such as food processing and post-harvest management. Even as India is one of the largest producers of vegetables and fruits, only a small portion of it is processed.

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