India and Africa forged partnerships for stronger collaboration and accelerated development, particularly in the areas of agriculture, food processing, and entrepreneurship at the 52nd Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB). Held outside Africa for the first time, the meetings saw several memorandums of understanding being signed between Indian states, African nations and companies within India. These were aimed at developing close ties between India and Africa as they face similar challenges related to adapting to climate change, addressing malnutrition and creating economic opportunity for youth in the agriculture sector.
Consistent with the central theme of the event, “Transforming Agriculture for Wealth Creation in Africa,” many conferences and seminars explored cooperative strategies for India and Africa to attain the shared goal of rural and agricultural transformation leading to alleviation of rural poverty and improvement of farmers’ lives. Understanding that agriculture is the engine for broad-based economic development, the AfDB meetings and sideline events were about gaining from India’s experiences from the first Green Revolution and adapting them into large-scale implementation in Africa.
Mr Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, inaugurated the Annual Meeting on 23 May, reiterating the common geographies and aims of the two major global regions in agriculture. In his keynote speech, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President, AfDB, said that this year’s meetings were focused on one of the High 5s of AfDB: Feed Africa, i.e. reduce Africa’s dependence on food imports and unlock the full potential of its agriculture. He praised India’s Green Revolution, which turned India into a food self-sufficient nation, and hoped that Africa could emulate it. He made a special mention of the fact that he started his international career with ICRISAT way back in 1988.
Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, said, ‘The African Development Bank Group is interested to see how partnerships with the private sector could also be realized between India and the African nations, particularly in the areas related to supporting smallholder farmers, to improving nutrition and to making agriculture ‘cool’ to attract youth back into agriculture.’
ICRISAT participated in a special exhibition: “India & Africa: Partners in Growth. An Exposition on Opportunities and Collaborations” at the AfDB Annual Meetings. Various businesses, organizations, farmers, students and other individuals visited the ICRISAT stall and shared motivating inputs and their specific insights on the issue of agriculture in Africa.
Mr SK Pattanayak, Secretary, Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Government of India and ICRISAT governing board member, visited the stall, where Dr Bergvinson informed him about the ICRISAT ihub.
Mr Willy Bett, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, Kenya, appreciated ICRISAT’s millet and sorghum products commenting that this was exactly needed in Kenya to improve farmers’ livelihoods.
Several African citizens approached the ICRISAT stall for information on setting up agribusinesses in their home countries; they requested ICRISAT’s assistance for acquiring quality seeds, new technologies. The agribusiness ideas ranged from large-scale farming investments in Africa, to manufacturing and marketing of customized agricultural implements.
Mr Louis Nouaille-Degorce, Deputy Regional Economic Counsellor, Embassy of France in India, stopped by to explore partnership opportunities in value chain development, especially in the cold storage logistics sector.
ICRISAT received numerous invitations to attend conferences and agri-fairs in Kenya, Indore (India) and other places.
Ready-to-eat food items like muffins, cookies and savories presented by the Housing and Food Services Department, ICRISAT, were greatly appreciated by all visitors. There were also repeated queries for the recipes and availability of the processed millet products.
The 52nd Annual Meetings of the AfDB were held at Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India, during 22-26 May.