On July 18, 2005,
President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh
announced the U.S.–India Knowledge Initiative on
Agricultural Education, Teaching, Research, Service, and Commercial Linkages
(AKI). Recognizing the long history of cooperation in agriculture and the
success of India’s Green Revolution launched 40 years ago with U.S.
assistance, the AKI builds on this tradition of collaboration and addresses
new challenges and opportunities of modern-day agriculture. Through
public-private partnerships, it will help to facilitate technology transfer,
trade, and investment and bolster agricultural research, education, and
extension. In pursuing these objectives, a critical component is cooperation
on development of effective policy, regulatory, and institutional
frameworks. These, in turn, will contribute to increased prosperity for
farmers and agricultural growth.
Since its inception, the AKI has made notable progress. Both countries
created a board comprised of academia, government,
and private sector representatives from the United States and India. The
board agreed to a three-year work plan that supports
the "Evergreen Revolution," which is based on environmentally sustainable,
market-oriented agriculture. To jump start the Initiative, the United States
secured funding of $8 million in fiscal year 2006, with a total of $24
million pledged through 2008.
A number of activities have been accomplished in each of the four key
areas identified by the board for cooperation:
Food Processing and Marketing. Twelve individuals from India’s public
and private sectors were selected to participate in USDA’s Cochran
Fellowship Program. This program provides short-term, U.S.-based
agricultural training opportunities. Six Indian Cochran Fellows have already
completed training, with the remainder participating in specific training
programs early next year. A market assessment of India’s cold chain
infrastructure was completed to conduct in-country technical seminars for
key Indian companies that handle perishable food products throughout the
cold chain. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding
agricultural market information systems training in collaboration with
India’s National Institute of Agricultural Marketing and USDA. In early
2007, a training program on strengthening agricultural markets will be held
in three Indian states. USAID also launched a program with the Indian
Forward Markets Commission to streamline and increase transparency of Indian
commodity futures markets.
Biotechnology. Indian participants attended an international workshop
on improving legumes through genomics at the University of California–Davis.
Following the workshop, the University and the Indian Agricultural Research
Institute agreed to collaborate on a pigeon pea genome project under the
AKI’s auspices. A planning meeting was held to prepare for a November 2007
workshop on harnessing the benefits of biotechnology.
Water Management. The National Association of State Universities and
Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC) awarded four grants to U.S. universities to
work with Indian partners on water management. More than 50 U.S. and Indian
universities and government institutions participated in a water resources
management workshop in New Delhi in September 2006.
University Capacity Building. Fifteen Indian scientists and
researchers completed fellowships under USDA’s Norman E. Borlaug
International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program. This
program continues Dr. Borlaug’s Green Revolution efforts by helping
developing countries strengthen sustainable agricultural practices through
fellowships to experts who are early in their careers. NASULGC awarded five
grants to U.S. universities to work with Indian partners on capacity
building projects that focus on university curriculum development, animal
diseases, and trade. The U.S. Department of State selected 13 Indian
candidates for the Fulbright-Humphrey program. They will begin their
fellowships in 2007. A curriculum development workshop organized by three
U.S. land-grant universities, in collaboration with their Indian
counterparts, will be held in January 2007 in Hyderabad. USDA’s National
Agricultural Library and U.S. land-grant universities began working with
their Indian counterparts to develop a plan to strengthen India’s library
and information systems.
The U.S.–India AKI has the potential to raise agricultural productivity,
strengthen food security, increase technology transfer, expand U.S.–India
trade and investment through policy and regulatory capacity building, ensure
key roles for the Indian and U.S. private sectors, and reinvigorate the
U.S.–India university partnerships.
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