After nearly 60 years of U.S. assistance to India, the two nations are taking development cooperation to new levels. This was one of the core messages President Barack Obama took to his first official state visit to India earlier this month, where he was accompanied by USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah.
On November 7, a demonstration of this strategic partnership convened in a momentous occasion for USAID — an Agriculture and Food Security Exposition in Mumbai. Administrator Shah had the honor of escorting President Obama, along with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, through an array of innovative agricultural exhibits on display at St. Xavier’s College. The event, co-hosted by USAID, USDA, and the Confederation of Indian Industry, provided an exciting opportunity for the notable trio to visit with Indian farmers who shared how new, pioneering tools and technologies are increasing their productivity.
One farmer demonstrated how he receives crop information on his cell phone, while another showed how he obtains information on market rates at village Internet kiosks, enabling him to better negotiate the sale of his produce.
A woman farmer using a small metal tube to strip corn cobs showcased the work of India’s Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering. The Institute has been working to create more compact, lighter versions of common farming tools to increase the productivity of female farmers. A memorable moment was when the President picked up the tool, turned to the reporters, and said in jest, “Look at this. It’s like an infomercial. I want one of those!” After a brief chuckle, he commented on the importance of the tool in reducing women’s labor time up to 30 percent.
Alongside the expo, Secretary Vilsack and Dr. Shah hosted a roundtable discussion with Indian agriculture experts, where they heard about the most promising agricultural innovations to address the gaps that remain in India’s agriculture sector. The take-away: strengthened collaboration will unlock new opportunities for U.S. and Indian agribusiness.
The United States and India plan to extend these innovations to other countries to promote global food security. Their partnership is emblematic of one where peer nations work side by side to develop the kinds of innovations and solutions that can help improve the lives of more and more people, not only in India and the United States, but also around the world. USAID will play a key role.