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India to grow crops for UAE, Saudi Arabia

Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu announced here on Sunday that the UAE and Saudi Arabia had decided to use India as a base to address their food security concerns.

Mr. Prabhu was speaking to presspersons after meeting delegates from the two countries, along with representatives from 44 others, at a summit of the Confederation of Indian Industry here.

“The UAE and Saudi Arabia will use India as a base in addressing their social security concerns. For the first time, India’s export policy identifies the potential of agriculture along with horticulture, dairy, plantation and fisheries,” Mr. Prabhu said. The farm-to-port project will be similar to a special economic zone but in the style of a corporatised farm, where crops would be grown keeping a specific UAE market in mind. The concept has been accepted by both governments.

Ensuring food security remains an area of high priority for India and the two countries whose partnership has been on the upswing since 2015.

“We are ready for exports. Great buyback is possible from the Gulf region. The UAE wants to invest in organic and the food processing industries. The farmers are already getting 150% of production cost as Minimum Support Price. If a farmer exports, he will earn much more,” Mr. Prabhu said.

The Indian government has already welcomed a proposal from the UAE for establishing food security parks, including through the creation of high-quality food processing infrastructure, integrated cold chains, value addition, preservation technology, packaging of food products and marketing.

Mr. Prabhu said it was estimated India would produce 290 million tons of agricultural produce, this year. Along with about 310 million tons of horticulture, the produce would total over 600 million tons, besides milk.

The Partnership Summit is the annual flagship event of the CII and has been organised in association with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India and the Government of Maharashtra.

Explaining how Maharashtra would gain from the export policy, Mr. Prabhu said Nashik had grapes, Ratnagiri/Sindhudurg mangoes, Nagpur oranges and Lasalgaon onions, which when exported would hugely benefit farmers.

The Minister said Argentina, countries in North America, Europe, Asia, and Korea were interested in investing in the Indian logistics space. India, on the other hand would be investing in the Central-African nation, Angola. “Angola is rich in mineral deposits. India is planning investments there through the Export-Import Bank of India,” Mr. Prabhu said.

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