U.S. agrees to consider lifting of sanitary and phyto-sanitary ban
Board of Knowledge Initiative to identify priority areas40 agriculture research varsities identified for collaboration
NEW DELHI: Americans may be able to savour irradiated Indian mangoes next summer under a Framework Equivalence Plan signed as part of the Indo-U.S. Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture Education, Research, Services and Commercial Linkages.
In a reference on Thursday, U.S. President George Bush said at his joint press conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: "I look forward to eating Indian mangoes with the opening up of markets and [the] liberalisation of trade." The U.S. authorities have agreed to consider lifting sanitary and phyto-sanitary ban on its import.
The framework outlines the fundamental requirements to allow bilateral trade of commoditiestreated by irradiation as phyto-sanitary measure. "With this, the regulatory process for export of irradiated mangoes from India to the U.S. may be initiated and hopefully completed in about a year," said a fact sheet.
A joint Board of Knowledge Initiative has been formed to identify priority areas under an agreed work plan and to oversee the implementation. The plan is, however, silent on Intellectual Property Rights on collaborative research and the germplasm accessed from the public research domain.
Both Governments have committed themselves to fund over three years a work plan that would focus on four priorities. About 40 premier Indian agriculture research universities have been identified for collaboration. The U.S. partners would be identified on a competitive basis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the concurrence of the Indian Government.
The areas of cooperation include biotechnology, food processing and marketing, water management and education.
Under biotechnology, a strategic alliance has been envisaged on the development of transgenic crops with resistance to economically important viruses, tolerance to drought, heat and salinity and micronutrient utilisation efficiency, molecular breeding and genomics in crops and animals, molecular approaches in plants and animal health protection.
Under food processing and marketing, the work plan targets training, capacity building and joint research, including in quality assurance and food safety, reduction of post-harvest losses, market information systems, value addition, strengthening grades and standards, facilitation of aggro-business investment, advanced processing technologies, by-product utilization and bio-fuels and biomass.
The water management plan envisages research and training on sustainable use of resources, quality management and remediation, use of modern tools, integrated nutrient management and precision agriculture.
Under education, the focus would be on learning resources, curriculum development and training, building of human and institutional capacity in the pursuit of sustaining and attaining "evergreen revolution."
The mechanism would involve the establishment of a standing Indo-U.S. Joint Working Group, sharing the U.S. experience in curriculum development to benefit the ongoing curriculum revision exercise in India.
Promising a "win, win" situation for both countries, the initiative aims at attaining excellence in agricultural education to fulfil (Indian) commitments towards the Millennium Development Goals and improving the quality of life through sustainable rural development, including innovative farm extension, agri-business programmes and wider participation of women.