India-EU Cooperation in Agriculture

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    Recently, India and the European Union (EU) have held a virtual meeting to acknowledge the strong momentum of the India-EU relations.

    Major Highlights

    • EU Common Agriculture Policy
      • It is a partnership between agriculture and society and between Europe and its farmers and was launched in 1962.
      • It is a common policy for all EU countries and is managed and funded at European level from the resources of the EU’s budget.
      • Aims To
        • Support farmers and improve agricultural productivity, ensuring a stable supply of affordable food.
        • Safeguard European Union farmers to make a reasonable living.
        • Help tackle climate change and the sustainable management of natural resources.
        • Maintain rural areas and landscapes across the EU.
        • Keep the rural economy alive by promoting jobs in farming, agri-food industries and associated.

    (Image Courtesy: Twitter)

    • EU Farm to Fork Strategy
      • It is at the heart of the European Green Deal aiming to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly.
      • It aims to accelerate EU’s transition to a sustainable food system that should:
        • Have a neutral or positive environmental impact.
        • Help to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts.
        • Reverse the loss of biodiversity.
        • Ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food.
        • Preserve affordability of food while generating fairer economic returns, fostering competitiveness of the EU supply sector and promoting fair trade.
      • It sets out both regulatory and non-regulatory initiatives, with the common agricultural and fisheries policies as key tools to support a just transition.
      • Targets

    (Image Courtesy: CLEW)

    • UN Food System Summit and Bilateral Cooperation
      • The UN Secretary General has called for the first ever UN Food Systems Summit to be held in September 2021.
      • It will strategize the actions for positive change in Agri-food systems in the world to realize the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
    • G20 Agriculture Minister Process
      • It is one of the ministerial meetings organized as part of the G20 Leaders Summit 2021, which will be hosted by Italy in October 2021.
      • The process will have three major focus areas: People, Planet and Prosperity.

    Highlights by India

    • The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare explained the scenario of agriculture in India and the dominance of small farmers and the commitment of the Government of India towards welfare of farmers in India.
    • Issue of Maximum Residual Limit of Tricyclazole
      • The minister raised the issue of fixing the Maximum Residual Limit (MRL) of Tricyclazole used in rice crops.
        • The MRL is the maximum concentration of a pesticide on a crop or food commodity.
        • Tricyclazole is a fungicide used for controlling rice blast (a disease in rice crops severely affecting yields). It is not approved for use in the EU.
      • It has been a concern for India and is affecting India’s Basmati Rice exports to the EU.
      • All the required studies and documents have been submitted and the MRL will be fixed by the second quarter of 2022 before next season. Until then, the issue may be resolved through other mitigation measures.
    • Related Government Initiatives
      • The Agriculture Infrastructure Fund was launched to increase the incomes of the farmers. It has a corpus of Rs. 1 lakh crore for development of farm gate and agriculture marketing infrastructure in rural areas.
      • Scheme of Formation of 10000 FPOs was launched to help small and marginal farmers in marketing of agricultural produce.
      • The Pramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana encourages organic farming. Farmers are encouraged for organic farming on either sides of Ganga river up to 5 km through formation of clusters.
      • Application of nano-urea to make agriculture sustainable and environment friendly.

    European Union

    • It is an international organization comprising 27 European countries and governing common economic, social, and security policies
      • It originally had 28 nations but the UK left it in 2020, under Brexit.
    • Formation: In 1993, after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty.
    • In 2012, it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for advancing the causes of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.
    • Objectives
      • Political and economic cooperation by creating a single currency, the Euro.
      • Unify security and foreign policy, common citizenship rights.
      • Enhance cooperation in the areas of judiciary, immigration and asylum.

    India-EU Relations

    • Background
      • India-EU bilateral relations date back to the early 1960s with India being amongst the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the European Economic Community in 1962.
      • EU-India Cooperation Agreement 1994 provides the legal framework for EU-India relations. India and the EU have been strategic partners since 2004.
      • Since the Lisbon summit in 2000, India has belonged to a small group of countries including the US, China, Russia, Japan and Canada among others with whom the EU holds regular summits. 
      • The relationship was upgraded to a ‘Strategic Partnership’ during the 5th India-EU Summit held in 2004 in The Hague.
      • The 14th India-EU Summit was held on 6 October 2017 in New Delhi. 
    • Trade and Investment
      • EU is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for 11.1 per cent of total Indian trade, on par with the USA and ahead of China in 2019 whereas India is EU’s 10th largest trading partner.
      • EU is the second-largest destination for Indian exports (over 14 per cent of the total) after the USA.
      • Trade in goods between the EU and India increased by 72 per cent in the last decade.
      • Nearly 6,000 European companies are present in India, providing directly 1.7 million jobs and indirectly 5 million jobs in a broad range of sectors.
    • Infrastructure
      • European Investment Bank (EIB) opened its first office for the South Asian region in 2017, headquartered in New Delhi.
      • The EIB has extended loans for the Lucknow Metro Project and the Bangalore Metro Phase II Project.
    • Energy
      • Joint Working Groups have been constituted under the India-EU Energy Panel to deal with Coal, Clean Coal Technology, Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy.
    • Environment
      • India-EU Joint Working Group on Environment: It deals with prevention of pollution, waste minimisation, protection of Biological diversity, sustainable forest management, environmental education etc.
        • Joint Working Group’s Meeting held in New Delhi in 2017 created India- EU Environment Forum.
      • EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries led a Circular Economy Mission to India in 2018.
        • Its aim was deepening cooperation in policy formulation and fostering business opportunities
    • Other Initiatives
      • Different Joint Working Groups on water, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical devices, agriculture and marine and dialogue on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
      • Horizontal Agreement on Civil Aviation between India and the EU, which was signed in 2008 became operational in February 2018.

    Source: PIB