The first meeting of ASEAN-India Ministers of Agriculture took place in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Oct. 8.

The meeting drew the participation of ASEAN Deputy Secretary General Sundram Pushpanathan, agriculture and forestry leaders from 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Indian Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu led a Vietnamese delegation to the event.

At the meeting chaired by Indonesian Agriculture Minister Suswono and his Indian counterpart, Sharad Pawar, delegates voiced their support to enhancing cooperation in the spirit of the Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity for the 2010-2015 period that was adopted at the eighth ASEAN-India Summit in Hanoi in October, 2010.

The leaders highlighted the significance of enhancing agro-forestry cooperation between ASEAN and India to cope with food security challenges, exchange of information and related technology, enhancement of farmers’ awareness and involvement in agro-forestry research and development projects and encouragement of the development of other industries relating to the agro-forestry sector.

The participants welcomed and supported the early implementation of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement.

They said they hoped the two sides concluded the negotiation on the trade service and investment agreement within the framework of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area in which agricultural cooperation is considered a big potential for sustainable development in the region and for the interest of each country’s people.

The participants agreed to adopt the meeting’s joint statement, affirming their consensus on the establishment of the ASEAN-India working group on agriculture to boost cooperation in agriculture and forestry between the two sides.
They welcomed activities to be carried out in the 2011-2012 period, including launching the ASEAN-India agricultural information page, the ASEAN-India friendship programme, organising seminars of agriculture universities’ rectors and adopting a medium-term action plan on agricultural cooperation between ASEAN and India for the 2011-2015 period.

The ministers also asked the ASEAN-India working group on agriculture to present report on the implementation of the medium-term action plan at the second meeting slated for 2012 in India./.