Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar, successfully launched the Asia BioAg Forum, a two-day conclave held by the Agriculture Today Group at National Agriculture Science Centre (NASC), New Delhi. The forum's objective scheduled for 20 and 21 of April 2022 was to promote and boost the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices and ensure food and nutritional security and farmer prosperity across Asia.
Day two of the forum also hosted an exclusive chief executive officers session on global opportunities for India. On the chair and co-chair was Dr William Dar, agriculture minister – Philippines; and H.E. Dr Manoj Nardeosingh, secretary-general, AARDO. Other dignitaries that were present for the event included Dr Rattan Lal, Renowned Soil Health Scientist and World Food Prize Laureate; Dr Tarun Bajaj, Director, APEDA; Dr MJ Saxena, managing director, Ayurvet; Sanjay Sethi, executive director, Plant-Based Foods Industry Association; and Dr Neelam Patel, senior advisor Agriculture, NITI Aayog.
Speaking on occasion, Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Agriculture Minister, said, "Agriculture has always been a subject of priority. It has time and again proved its relevance even in adverse conditions. The aim of hosting this event was to take initiatives that bring great prosperity to farmers. The government's intent hereon is to eliminate the practice of intermediaries in the agriculture value chain so that the farmers get a fair price for their products and do not face discrimination. I assure that we are also making efforts to make agriculture and farmers connected with the latest technology."
Sanjay Sethi, executive director of PBFIA, highlighted three trends shaping the plant-based food sector- a) sustainability, b) the tsunami of entrepreneurs and consumer focus on health, and c) the treatment of food and diet as a means of medicine.
"The country did not perform well in processed food products. However, there is a huge market opening up in the rest of the world for value-added proteins. India is a protein surplus country as we do not consume as much compared to the rest of the world. Moreover, the country can increase production to match domestic needs and meet export demand".
Sethi further added, "Plenty of young entrepreneurs are entering the plant-based food sector. They need guidance concerning the preparation of safe foods as per the regulations laid by the regulatory authorities. Therefore, optimum training, handholding and mentoring support become essential. A joint task can provide valuable support to not just institutes like NIFTEM but to hundreds of other institutes breeding young scientists and entrepreneurs. The other potential opportunity can come from pea production and processing amidst the geo-political changes caused by Ukraine- Russia war. The demand for pea protein to formulate value-added products is witnessing a tremendous rise globally. Ukraine was one of the largest suppliers of a pea to the world, and the current situation can open doors for several other countries. Additionally, there is a need to bring a component of technology into the food production system. Wherein we can save soil, water bodies and reduce air pollution. Including the carbon footprint of food choices as a labeling requirement".
Dr William Dar, Agriculture Minister of Philippines; Hugo Javier Gobbi, Ambassador of Argentina in India; and Dr Douglas Ry Wagner, Global chief executive officer, AlgaeEnergy, Spain, stressed that cooperation between nations is key to the global adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.
The conclave successfully concluded on 21 April 2022, with a brief presentation of BioAg Asia Awards 2022 and a vote of thanks.