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India to launch apex body for food and agriculture: ICFA

Apr 29, 2015

The apex body would act as a development catalyst and monitoring centre for food and agriculture sector.

New Delhi: Agriculture in India continues to be a powerful engine for rural prosperity, economic growth and social transformation with over 60% population directly dependent for its livelihood and sustenance.

Indian agriculture is however, presently, undergoing a rapid transformation since the onset of economic reforms during early nineties and the emergence of post WTO regime, governing the global trade in food and agriculture. The fast changing trade and economic environment globally requires a paradigm shift in our approach to agriculture; from production to marketing, from quantity to quality and domestic to international consumers.

There is need for a comprehensive approach to address the issues in agriculture and tapping the emerging global business opportunities in food and agriculture.  In this context, there is a long felt need of having an apex body, which could act as a think tank, research centre, information bank, facilitation point, advocacy body, development catalyst and monitoring centre for food and agriculture sector at the national level.

Unleashing the potential of India’s food and agriculture sector and positioning it globally to tap the enormous opportunities emerging with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi roping in the world powers to the Make in India Mission. Since the new Government took over there is a strong interest in India among the major countries of the world to invest, manufacture, trade and source here.

While India is still largely an agrarian society with its large population dependant on the primary profession, but the opportunities for growth, value addition and trade to improve the income of masses have not been adequately tapped due to lack of an appropriate body at the national level, which could represent the interests of all the stake-holders at the national level on one hand and position the India’s food and agriculture sector globally on the other hand, said Dr MJ Khan, President, Agriculture Today Group, while talking to the reporters in New Delhi.

To fill this gap, a new body, Indian Council of Food and Agriculture, is being launched. He said a consultation meeting has been called on 23 April in New Delhi, inviting key people from across the spectrum to fine tune the operationalisation of ICFA, which is planned to be launched in next two months time.

The meeting is chaired by the Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu, who has been instrumental in its formation since 2001. Dr Khan said that an extensive consultation is being done for the last 10 months with various stake-holders from the industry to the Government, trade, research and developmental institutions and experts for making this body the world’s largest in food and agriculture sector.

While studies have been done on similar organisations in different countries such as French Chamber of Agriculture, Chinese Chamber of Food, Agriculture and Livestock Products, Danish Council of Agriculture and Food and various organisations in US, but ICFA will be different in the structure, mandate and functioning from rest of the world bodies, informed Dr Khan. Besides the trade and industry, ICFA will be equally focussing on farmers and agri-entrepreneurs towards helping them connect with the market opportunities, while addressing their policy, technology, marketing, financing and partnership related issues.

The national body would also give voice at global platforms on trade, multilateral negotiations and AOA etc. as also analyse the developments in major countries of the world and monitor their impact on Indian agriculture and food trade on one hand and influence policy decisions, reforms progress and direction to agriculture on the other hand.

The Council would forge linkages with various bodies and organizations in farm sector, hold meetings with them and dialogues with the Governments, facilitate visits of delegations with various countries and take up research and advocacy work towards furthering the cause of farmers, Indian agriculture and agribusiness. ICFA Management Committee would be comprised of about fifty eminent persons in the country from policy making, public, farming community, research & academia, agri-industries, experts, finance and developmental institutions etc.

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