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THE WILL AND THE WAY

The US and UAE are spending billions in India to fight global food insecurity

A farmer sprays a mixture of fertilizer and pesticide onto his wheat crop on the outskirts of Ahmedabad
Reuters/Amit Dave
Growing together.
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Foreign nations are turning to India to solve global hunger.

The UAE, as part of a four-nation group set up by the US to fight food insecurity, has pledged $2 billion to help develop a series of “food parks” in the country. India will provide the land and the farmers but it lacks regular irrigation and modern technology. That’s where the US and Israeli private sectors will step in to lend their expertise.

The parks will bring farmers, processors, and retailers together using advanced climate technology to minimise waste, conserve water, and maximise crop yields, Reuters reported. The output will help build food security in west and south Asia.

The investment could “increase India’s food yields in the region three-fold in just five years,” US president Joe Biden said in a virtual I2U2 summit with the UAE, Israeli, and Indian leaders in Jerusalem.

Why the UAE, US, and Israel are eyeing Indian agriculture

Covid-related supply chain disruptions have hit food supply and increased prices. The Russia-Ukraine war further stoked fears of global food shortages, given that the two countries are the world’s third and fourth largest grain exporters, respectively.

India has been a solid alternative. But it needs some hand-holding. For instance, as it was stepping up as a key global wheat exporter, the country had to ban exports owing to record-high domestic food inflation.

“All these issues require cooperation and coordination, and none of us can mount a comprehensive response on our own,” Biden said.

Where will India’s “food parks” be?

A commitment has been made to set up a 300-megawatt hybrid wind and solar energy project in Gujarat, prime minister Narendra Modi’s home state. Madhya Pradesh, another state ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, will also see food parks being set up, according to Indian foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra.

Initially, the focus will be on cultivating bananas, potatoes, rice, onions, and spices.

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