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India and Russia to strengthen cooperation in agriculture as 3rd IRSED approaches

The upcoming 3rd India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue (IRSED) will focus agricultural cooperation between the two countries on IoT, soil degradation prevention technologies, and bilateral trade facilitation.

Representatives from business associations, scientific institutions, and government agencies of Russia and India agreed to deepen relations in agriculture while preparing for the 3rd round of IRSED, scheduled for the end of April 2021. On the 10th of March, 2021, the National Dairy Producers Union of Russia (SOYUZMOLOKO) and the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare of India held the video conference meeting of the IRSED Coordination Committee on Agriculture and Agro-processing sectors. The participants discussed the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in agriculture, restoration and preservation of soil fertility, as well as trade in agricultural products.

“Smart Farming” hardware and software platform for bovine cattle monitoring was introduced by the Russian side. The technology is based on IoT and increases the efficiency of dairy farm management by providing better control over animal health and reproduction. The product was presented by Michael Kozlov, Head of the M2M/IoT at PJSC “MTS”. Shri Vijay Rajmohan, Director (IT) at the DAC&FW of India admitted that with several start-ups working in close cooperation with national and foreign companies on the practical application of IoT technologies in agriculture, the government has already initiated a series of IoT pilots around the country. The sides decided to continue the exchange of information on technological advances and help to find business institutions interested in a pilot project of “Smart Farming”.

A set of recent Russian advances on the way to prevent the degradation of agricultural soil was presented by Pavel Kargashin, the associate professor of the Faculty of Geography of the Moscow State University named after Mikhail Lomonosov. The Russian expert described the current research work on biological wastewater treatment, closed cycles in fish farm, organic waste disposal, as well as reforestation technologies based on wastewater for irrigation and using fast-growing forests. The Indian co-chair of the Committee Ms. Alaknanda Dayal, Joint Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation& Farmers Welfare found the presentation compelling. She underlined that the idea of the Russian scientific center might be further developed together with Soil&Land Use Survey of India (SLUSI), which representative Shri Ravindra Kulkarni, Soil Survey Officer, also took part in the video conference meeting and outlined the potential cooperation with the Russian side concerning the developed idea.

While discussing trade issues, the parties exchanged information on the current phytosanitary and veterinary requirements and spoke about the corresponding market access procedures. The participants noted the potential for increasing trade in soft drinks, crop production, and animal husbandry. The parties agreed to continue discussions on obtaining access to the markets during the existing G2G platforms, as well as to inform the national businesses about existing import opportunities.

Speaking on the results Artyom Belov, the Russian co-chair of the Committee and General Director at SOYUZMOLOKO, noted that the event furthered the advancement on all agenda items and met the set objectives. He specified:

“Primarily, the participants managed to successfully establish international contacts. Then we agreed to continue cooperation on the most promising strategic aspects of Russia and India and global cooperation in agriculture – the introduction of IT and modern advances in environment protection. Moreover, a better understanding of issues in regard to bilateral trade was achieved. I consider it a good start for further work with Indian colleagues at IRSED platform”.

The IRSED was established following a bilateral memorandum of understanding signed between NITI Aayog and the Ministry of economic development of the Russian Federation during the 19th Annual India-Russia Bilateral Summit, which was held on October 5, 2018, in New Delhi. The 3rd round of IRSED covers 6 core areas: transport infrastructure, agricultural and food processing development, SMEs support, digital transformation, industrial cooperation as well as tourism. The final meeting will be presided by NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar and Maxim Reshetnikov, minister of the economic development of the Russian Federation.