India, New Zealand to increase cooperation in agriculture

Mumbai: India and New Zealand have agreed to increase cooperation in agriculture and sort out issues relating to bio-security at the earliest.

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has proposed to form an 'umbrella agreement' to raise the level of cooperation and expand cooperation into a range of issues in the agriculture sector.

A delegation led by agriculture, bio-security, fisheries and forestry minister of New Zealand Jim Anderton is on a visit to India on the invitation of Pawar.

India and New Zealand already have an agreement on plant quarantine issues. A tripartite MoU among Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Land Care Research and Massey University, New Zealand is also being discussed and will be signed as soon as all the clearances are available, a government press note said.

The proposed umbrella agreement between agriculture ministries of the two countries will cover agriculture and allied activities, including food processing, agricultural research, phytosanitary issues relating to trade in plants and animal products, engagement of private sector of both the countries and exchange of information in the areas of mutual interest. The proposed agreement would supplement other efforts being made by the two governments to strengthen cooperation and encourage trade.

The ministers agreed that there is tremendous potential for cooperation between the two countries considering complementarity between agriculture, horticulture, environment and related areas.

The visiting New Zealand team is scheduled to hold discussions with the agriculture minister of Maharashtra later this week.