'Best Time for India, South Africa to Improve Ties'

Happenings

Aiming to boost bilateral trade between the two countries, South Africa showcased the technologies related to food processing and agriculture sector in India, in the first ever 'South Africa Week'. The South Africa Week was intended to further promote the bilateral trade between the two nations.

Aiming to boost bilateral trade between the two countries, South Africa showcased the technologies related to food processing and agriculture sector in India, in the first ever ‘South Africa Week’. The South Africa Week was intended to further promote the bilateral trade between the two nations.

As part of the 'South Africa Week', a day-long Summit was organised by PHD Chambers of Commerce in association with the South African High Commission, New Delhi on ‘Indo-South African Cooperation in Food Processing and Agriculture’ on September 11, 2014, in Gurgaon. The programme was divided into three sessions: Inaugural Session, Valedictory Session and B2B Session.

The welcome address was delivered by H.E. Mr FK Morule, High Commissioner of South Africa to India. He stressed on South Africa celebrating 20 years of democracy and the need for India and South Africa to work together.

“South Africa is indebted to India for its support in suppressing apartheid and racism. From Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, now is the time that the relations between the countries have to be taken to the next level,” H.E. Mr FK Morule said.

“Agriculture is the mainstay of relations between the two countries and that’s why South Africa supports India in WTO. We can attest that India is the leader in agriculture & food processing, and we can take advantage of this,” he added.

Presenting the business perspective, Mr Sanjeev Sardana, Chairman, International Affairs Committee for Africa, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry emphasised on the historically warm and cordial relations between India and South Africa.

“Food processing is one of the largest industries in India and is ranked fifth in terms of production, consumption, export and expected growth. Agro sector, food processing and horticulture have huge opportunity for exports. India is going through the economic transformation and this is the best time for South Africa and India to improve ties,” Mr Sardana said.

While delivering the special address, Mr Sanjeev Chopra, IAS, Joint Secretary, International Cooperation (Department of Agriculture & Cooperation), Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India mentioned the close relation between the two countries despite the geographical distance.

“Due to its size, it is difficult to be number one in every sphere but still India is the largest producer, exporter and processor of various food crops,” he said.

Mr Chopra urged the South African businesses and entrepreneurs to invest in India.

“India’s GDP had almost doubled in the last seven years, from $0.95 trillion in 2006 to $1.9 trillion in 2013 and there are lot of opportunities emerged in horticulture sector in the last 10 years. Indian entrepreneurs have the technology that is equal to the developed countries and present a lot of opportunities for investment,” he added.

Presenting the Indian perspective, Mr Pravesh Sharma, IAS, Managing Director, Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) informed that India still employs highest number of people (600 million or 140 households) in the sector.

“We have to be environmentally sustainable, globally competitive, and socially inclusive. South Africa is the leader in fresh and processed produce, which is in high demand in US and Europe, and this is where we can learn from South Africa.”

The inaugural address was delivered by Mr Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Government of South Africa. This was Mr Zokwana’s first visit to India and he highlighted numerous areas in the field of agriculture and food processing where the two countries can cooperate and facilitate exchange programmes between entrepreneurs and agriculturists to strengthen relations.

In his address, he mentioned about India’s support for the anti-apartheid and racism movement of South Africa. He stressed on the importance of joint ventures in agriculture and processing to enhance the relations. “Agriculture and food processing are important pillars in international discussions,” he said.

Mr Zokwana noted that more than 60 companies invested in South Africa and through mutual cooperation, this can be increased. He stressed on the importance of ‘South-South’ cooperation for improving relations, and focussed on the significance of multi-lateral platforms such as India South Africa Brazil Dialogue Forum for deepening the ties between the two countries.

The valedictory session was aimed at showcasing the potential of both the countries in agriculture and food processing sectors. In this session, Mr Pawanexh Kohli, Chief Advisor & CEO, National Centre for Cold Chain Development (NCCD) gave a presentation on ‘Cold Chain Development in India’. Mr Nitin Puri, President and Country Head, Food and Agribusiness Strategic Advisory & Research, Yes Bank Ltd gave a presentation on ‘Observations on Large Scale Food Parks in India’. Mr Ronald Ramabulana, Chief Executive Officer, National Agricultural Marketing Council gave a presentation on ‘Fresh Produce Markets in South Africa.’ Mr Sanjeev Chopra, IAS, Joint Secretary, International Cooperation (Department of Agriculture & Cooperation), Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India gave a presentation on ‘Identifying Areas of Cooperation between India & South Africa.’

Mr Mkhululi Mankazana, Minister Counsellor – Agriculture Affairs, South African High Commission, New Delhi, was the convenor of the programme and also presented the vote of thanks.

In the final B2B Session, leaders of both the countries from trade, business and academic fraternity participated. In addition, several high profile delegates and representatives from South African and Indian business community graced the event. The summit enlightened the delegates, and ended on a positive note.

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Author

Aamir H Kaki
Aamir H Kaki is Editor at L.B. Associates (Pvt) Ltd.

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