Trade between India-Africa can surpass USD 40 bn: Conference

Participants at the "India-Africa Roundtable" conference said there was vast untapped potential such as developing seeds and sale of farm equipments that could give a boost to trade between them.

The meeting was attended by senior officials and private entrepreneurs from India and African countries like Sudan, South Africa, Ethiopia, Zambia, Mali and Nigeria among others. Setting the tone at the meet, Director General of ICAR, S Ayyappan said India and African continent should capitalise on common features like climate, soil, water and small land holdings.

Gurjet Singh, Joint Secretary (East and Southern Africa) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA),said besides agriculture there was great scope for Indian Food processing industries in Africa.

Saying that two Indian enterprises are the lead floriculture industies in Ethiopia today, he said African nations should provide favourable conditions to attract private enterpreuners to invest in their land. Singh said there was huge Indian FDI in Africa. While the RBI estimates Indian investment in Africa at around USD 11 billion, CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) puts the same at USD 29 billion.

L Sadig, Head-Trade Counsellor, Sudan, said his country has vast quantity of arable land on which India could profitably invest. "Almost 85 per cent of the 1100 million hectares arable land in Sudan is not under use at present. Indian entrepreuners hold good opportunity to invest in these huge tracts of lands," Sadig said.

He said Indian tractors and farm scientists like M S Swaminathan are a popular name in Sudan, the biggest country in size in the 53-nation African continent. The people in his country are keen to emulate Green Revolution of India, he said.

Representatives from Nigeria, Mali and South Africa also emphasised on greater exchange of farm technology and contacts between farmers and farm scientists between India and the African continent. Senior officers in the Union Agriculture ministry-- Sanjeev Chopra, S C Garg and A S Lamba-- stressed on enhancing India's engagements with Africa in the field of agriculture and horticulture.

The conference was organised by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). It is a non profit, non-political organisation that conducts agriculture research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with a wide array of partners throughout the world.

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