TERI School of Advanced Studies organised a two-day international workshop on Strengthening International Agribusiness Trade: Stakeholder Dialogue and Partnerships Towards SDGs in collaboration with Global Centre for Land-Based Innovation- Western Sydney University; National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) and National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) on November 14-15 in New Delhi.
The objectives of the workshop was to prioritise action plan for strengthening international agribusiness trade from developing countries to developed countries, and to initiate stakeholder dialogue and facilitate stakeholder partnerships between actors of food supply chains from developing and developed countries.
This was followed by an introduction by Dr. Sapna A. Narula, co-chair at the workshop, Associate Professor & Head at TERI SAS, who stressed, “In light of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), agriculture needs to be technology driven, climate resilient and market efficient. In order to serve both farmers and consumers, all stakeholders need to come together for sustainable agricultural solutions to serve the farmers and consumers”. She further added, “Such a platform is really important where diverse stakeholders come together to overcome challenges posed by climate change, resource constraints and market access.”
Followed by introduction to the workshop, Prof Brajesh Singh, Co-Chair at the workshop and Director, Global Centre for Land-based Innovation of Western Sydney University, said, “I am delighted to know that there is such a large representation and participation of global leaders at this conference today. The goal behind the workshop is to link increasing farm productivity to marketing. We must direct our energies towards finding solutions to the problems we are here to address”.
Speaking on the occasion, Ramesh Chand, Member, Niti Aayog, said, ”There cannot be export of produce if there is no import, and if you want more agribusiness, you must have surplus. Trade facilitation is extremely important in strengthening of agribusiness trade links. If a country tries to become entirely self-sufficient, then it becomes an anti-trade tendency. For example, growth of agricultural trade in SAARC regions should have been higher due to principal of neighbour, but trade in South Asian countries is recorded to be quite low. The reason being weak trade facilitation.”
Talking about SDG2 and SDG12 which talk about zero hunger and sustainable food production respectively, he said, “The term hunger is complicated. Food is available but despite that, people aren’t being able to consume it. India exports 10 percent of the food we produce, and despite that, the issue of hunger is showing a slow decline. I believe awareness of nutrition in children is extremely important to address as a starting point”.
Commenting on India’s partnership with Australia, the Niti Aayog official said, “There is a lot of scope of collaboration between India and Australia. I find that their institutes are doing well, and while our issues remain quite the same, India could learn from the science available in Australia for various issues such as water among others.”
In his address, Ashok Dalwai, CEO, National Rainfed Area Authority, emphasised on the need to recognise three key stakeholders in this ecosystem namely, i) consumers such as citizens of the world, who need to lead a nutritious and healthy life, ii) farmers, the centrepiece and the entrepreneur and iii) ecology, whose welfare is the joint responsibility of the consumer and producer. “The mantra today is not self-sufficiency but efficiency. Nations to figure out how to address the existing trade barriers and build faith among one another”, he added.
Resonating with the inaugural speeches and objectives of the workshop, Dr Sapna A Narula, HoD and Associate Professor, Department of Business and Sustainability at TERI SAS, said “We should not remain in silos and must come out of it. I urge all scholars, scientists, stakeholders to remain committed to the cause and take this dialogue further.
The last day of the conference commenced with a riveting panel discussion on Building Sustainable Agri-Food Supply Chains, which focussed on capturing challenges and strengthening partnerships for sustainable food supply chains. It was noted that to address sustainable issues in the supply chain, vertical and horizontal collaborations among supply chain actors must be addressed through lowered supply chain waste and agility. This can be accomplished through digital connectedness, trust-based relationships and availability of empirical decision-based tools.
Addressing the workshop, Dr Sebastiaan Hetterscheid, Wageningen University, Netherlands remarked, “The world is changing; so are the supply chains”. He elaborated on the three principles for sustainable fresh supply chain which should be based on demand driven models, quality driven mechanisms and should be monitored with a holistic approach.
Around 250 participants from various agricultural universities, ministries, NGOs, corporates participated in this conference.