(As Prepared for Delivery)
Additional Secretary Dalwai, High Commissioner of Afghanistan to India Dr. Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Faculty at National Institute of Agricultural Marketing (NIAM), International participants, and
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Good Afternoon. It gives me immense pleasure to welcome you all at the inauguration of the international training program on “Emerging Trends in Fruits and Vegetable Marketing” under the flagship “Feed the Future India Triangular Training Program.” As I look around this room, I see people who have travelled far and wide to participate in this two-week training at India’s premier institute — the National Institute for Agricultural Marketing here in this majestic city of Jaipur.
A few months ago, I launched the Feed the Future India Triangular Training program in the presence of Secretary of Agriculture Shri Shobhana Pattanayak and fellow Ambassadors, united by the vision that the second phase of this triangular capacity building program can achieve. This exemplifies the continued partnership between the United States and India in supporting the institutional and human resource development across Africa and Asia. Today, as I stand in front of more than 25 participants representing policy-makers, governments, private sector, and civil society from nine countries around the world, I am proud of what we have achieved.
At this juncture, I would like to thank the Government of India for its dedication and leadership in moving this initiative forward and our partner nations in Africa and Asia for their joint-commitment in helping to end extreme poverty and hunger.
U.S.-India-Africa Triangular Training Program
This renewed partnership would not have been possible without the overwhelming success of the first phase of U.S.-India-Africa Triangular Training program, which was spearheaded by MANAGE and NIAM from 2012-2015. My predecessor, Ambassador Nancy Powell was here in 2014 to inaugurate one of the training programs that not only trained several agricultural professionals from Kenya, Liberia and Malawi, but also helped in transferring some of India’s innovative agricultural practices to these countries. It is inspiring that some of the professionals who were trained here actually went on to train thousands of farmers. Those farmers successfully adopted and are now implementing new and improved farming practices that are increasing their productivity and income.
Following the success in these three countries, India wanted to further expand its partnership with the United States in this sphere. The second phase, launched today, will help increase the agricultural productivity in these 17 respective countries through trainings that will include everything from agricultural marketing, dairy management and food processing to sharing best practices on how to prevent post-harvest losses. By harnessing the expertise and innovation of our two great countries, we are unlocking new opportunities to address global development challenges, bringing us closer to our shared objective of eliminating global poverty and hunger.
How NIAM Training Can Make a Difference
Food and agriculture systems in developing countries are quickly transforming in response to urbanization, changing dietary preferences, new technologies, and global trade opportunities. Effective policies and institutions can catalyze and accelerate the transformation of these systems, making them more equitable and sustainable. Similarly, the role of skilled workforce to ensure that institutions across the food and agricultural sector are able to adopt new technologies and implement approaches effectively cannot be overstated.
In many countries, a farmer struggles to earn even 10 percent of the price of the product that is sold in commercial markets. But, here, in India, we have many examples from the dairy and agriculture sectors where farmers are earning up to 80 percent of the market price for their products.
To become financially viable, a farmer needs to adjust their cropping pattern to suit current market trends. It’s essential that they understand market requirements and align their crop cultivation to meet those demands. For example, a small-holder farmer from Tamil Nadu named Mr. Muthu uses his half-plot to grow jasmine and citrus. By understanding market demands and adjusting his crops to meet those demands, he now has an annual income of more than Rs. 4 lakh. This is because he is able to market the top quality citrus he produces directly to global retailers and attract extremely good prices.
Farmers like Mr. Muthu show how marketing and a knowledge of food safety and quality requirements can transform farmer incomes, and that’s exactly what this training program is about. NIAM will train you on the areas related to global trends in fruits and vegetable marketing, understanding food safety and quality requirements, and how to use technology as an enabling force. Collectively, these strategies have the potential to create an environment conducive to investment and entrepreneurial development.
Let me close by reiterating the vision laid out by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi last month. They called on the United States and India to work together for the global good to combat climate change, promote global health and food security, and ensure continued regional integration and stability in Africa and Asia. This new triangular initiative marks a major step toward realizing our leaders’ vision.
As Prime Minister Modi said in his recent address to the U.S. Congress, “A strong India-U.S. partnership can anchor peace, prosperity and stability from Asia to Africa and from Indian Ocean to the Pacific.” We couldn’t agree more. Our shared goal for a better world is strong. Let us continue our work together and honor the legacy of Dr. Norman Borlaug.
I urge you to emulate some of these great examples and replicate it back home. Thank you.