Agriculture minister, Senzeni Zokwana and the Indian Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Minister Parshottam Rupala held a bilateral meeting in New Delhi, India on 24 January, 2019. This bilateral meeting was aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two countries in the fields of agriculture, forestry and fisheries with a focus on crop and animal production, research, food and nutrition security, agro-forestry, aquaculture and agro-processing.

The meeting was the outcome of  technical discussions that occurred at the 4th Joint Working Group on Agriculture between the two countries. Both ministers recognised the importance of agriculture to the economies of their respective countries and committed to continue deepening bilateral trade in agricultural commodities. South Africa gained market access for persimmons and mangoes in 2016 and market access for avocados, litchis and pickled sheep and goat skins is being arranged.

The ministers recognised the signing of an MoU on agricultural research and education between the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in 2018 and urged both institutions to expedite the finalisation of a work plan to outline a programme of action on cooperation in research and education. The areas to be covered in the work plan include crop breeding, silk production, agricultural biotechnology, postharvest technologies and agriculture education and training.

The ministers also agreed to explore opportunities in the area of the bamboo value chain. Further agreements were made on working together on mutual food and security initiatives directed towards the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) with specific reference to SDG 1 – addressing poverty; and SDG 2 – addressing hunger; and share their experiences in the development of drought resistant varieties and bio-fortified varieties.

Both ministers further noted the importance of the soil-water-energy relationship and committed to intensify initiatives in this nexus to address sustainable agricultural systems. Experiences were shared in extension services and the importance of extension services participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution to ensure revolutionary agricultural development was emphasised.

Ministers also agreed on convening an inaugural bilateral seminar on extension. This seminar will be a platform to share best practices and set a new bilateral agenda on extension and technology transfer.

South Africa will host the first seminar at which a joint action plan will be crafted. In strengthening the marketing of commodities, the National Agricultural Marketing Council of South Africa and the National Institute of Agriculture Marketing of India will sign an MoU. The ministers also endorsed participation in fairs and exhibitions organised by South Africa and India. – Press release