Houston (US), September 28
The “historic” relationship between the US and India can be further be strengthened with increased cooperation in the agriculture and food processing sector, Arkansas State Governor Asa Hutchinson has said.
Participating in the webinar ‘India- Arkansas Partnership: Food Processing, Logistics and Manufacturing’, Governor Hutchinson said trade opportunities in Arkansas and India, and collaboration in them would be beneficial for both economies.
“We have laid an incredible foundation for the future. And that foundation is based on our commitment to democracy, our mutual love for entrepreneurship, business and trade,” Hutchinson said on Wednesday.
Apart from Hutchinson, Secretary Food Processing Industries, India, Pushpa Subrahmanyam and Consul General of India in Houston Aseem R Mahajan participated in the webinar hosted by the Government of India.
The governor recalled his visit to India in October 2019. “We met several companies during our ‘Incredible India visit’, ranging from textile to steel to technology,” he said.
“With agriculture being our number one economic driver, food processing is natural for us, followed by the steel industry. We have major steel mills like Big River Steel, Nucor-Yamato Steel Company,” he said.
“The aerospace and defence industry are another major part of our economy. Lockheed Martin, Dassault Falcon, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Raytheon Missile Systems, General Dynamics, and others. Big companies like Tyson and Walmart that have significant investment and partnership in India are located here,” he said.
Hutchison also mentioned the “vibrant and significant Indian-American community in Arkansas who contribute in all major fields, especially medicine, education”.
Consul General Mahajan said: “We deeply value Governor Hutchinson’s support to strengthen economic ties, as a result of which eight major Indian companies have invested over USD 392 million in Arkansas creating around 1,700 jobs in areas like information technology, manufacturing and engineering. The objective of today’s webinar is to highlight the immense potential and opportunities for companies in both countries to invest and build fruitful partnerships for mutual benefit.”
Providing an overview of the food processing industry in India, Secretary Subrahmanyam said: “Food processing is considered one among the champion sectors in India with policy shifts including measures to remove bottlenecks, fast track investments by fiscal measures and a better facilitating environment.”
“Today is a watershed moment in the Food processing industry, we are launching a second wave of liberalisation in the country, the agriculture sector is liberated from regulations, liberalising the marketing ecosystem, enabling contract farming in India and removing sealing on storage for agriculture commodities,” she said.
The Indian government last week introduced three Bills — The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce Bill, 2020, The Farmers Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, and The Essential Commodities Bill 2020 — saying they will revolutionise the country’s farming sector.
The bills permit the sale of agricultural produce outside the mandis regulated by the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees, provides guidelines for contract farming and deregulates the production, supply, distribution of food items like cereals, pulses, potatoes, onion and edible oilseeds.
“A factor attracting investments into India is its enormous food surplus, offering potential for processing this surplus and developing new products through fortified mechanisms, better technology and better nutritional attributes,” she said.
“The Government of India has financial subsidies to set up manufacturing units in the country, a dedicated fund provided through the Ministry to promote agriculture in rural areas and concessions for investment in this sector. Also promotes huge infrastructure for plug and play units to come up, such as mega-food parks and mini-food parks. We hope that investments from Arkansas and the US will deepen further and enable us to forge stronger collaborative roles with the help of the Food Processing Ministry,” Subrahmanyam said.
The participating panel included Secretary of Commerce & AEDC Executive Director Michael Preston from Arkansas, Principal Secretary Industries, Maharashtra, Venugopal Reddy, Principal Secretary Industries, Punjab, Alok Shekhar, Managing Director and CEO of Invest India Deepak Bagla, vice president, corporate affairs, Americas, Mahindra Group, Ridhika Batra, senior director of Tyson Foods Todd Menotti. PTI