Projects aimed at food security
India will provide "appropriate land" for "food parks" across the country that will be built in collaboration with Israel, United States and the United Arab Emirates. The plan for the "integrated food parks" was announced in a Joint Statement after the leaders of the I2U2 grouping - India, Israel, the UAE and the USA - announced on Thursday that they would bring in private capital for specific projects in the fields of water, energy, transportation, health, space and food security.
"U.S. and Israeli private sectors will be invited to lend their expertise and offer innovative solutions that contribute to the overall sustainability of the project. These investments will help maximize crop yields and, in turn, help tackle food insecurity in South Asia and the Middle East," said the Joint Statement announcing that it is India that will "facilitate farmers' integration into the food parks". In his comments at the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Right from the first summit held today, I2U2 has established a positive agenda."
The food parks aimed at cutting down "food waste and spoilage" are a few of the collaborations that the four countries declared after Thursday's leadership summit that was hosted by Israeli PM Yair Lapid and included UAE's President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Starting the summit, Sheikh Al Nahyan hinted at the UAE's commitment to the food parks and said, "We also believe that only partnership can overcome today's conflicts and overlapping challenges, the most important of which are food and energy security, climate change and healthcare. This is important in the first project of our team, which has focused on food, climate-smart agriculture, solar and wind energy and energy storage."
Urgency against backdrop of Ukraine situation
The focus on food and energy security has acquired urgency in the backdrop of the current military situation in Ukraine that has unleashed cascading negative effects on food, energy and other sectors. The United Arab Emirates will invest $2 billion in India to create the food parks, the Joint Statement announced. Officials exuded confidence and said that the Indian farmers will appreciate the opportunities that will be thrown up by the food parks and the resulting food corridors.
"When the specific food corridor project is implemented and the manner of its implementation (is on the table), we will naturally ensure that all the stake holders involved in this process are taken on board and consulted before this project is implemented," said Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra responding to a question from The Hindu on whether the farmers were consulted before the declaration of the "integrated food park" project.
When asked about how India would provide land for such a project, an official who has been part of the consultation process said that as of now, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have come forward to participate in the project and that other states are also expected to join in. "Farmers' income will multiply and they will come on board," said the official. He pointed out that India was chosen as the location for the food project because of its proximity to Israel and the UAE that will help in creating a smooth agriculture supply chain.
Apart from the agriculture project, the I2U2 Group also declared that it will support a "hybrid renewable energy project" in Gujarat, consisting of 300 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar capacity. The project is expected to be another step in India's quest for "500 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030".