In his address at the Asia-Africa Business Forum organized jointly by the ministries of agriculture, commerce, food processing industries and industry chamber FICCI, Pawar said: "There is an opportunity for responsible investment in agriculture by Asian countries in Africa, but it should be as per norms laid down by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization)."

Pointing out the opportunity from 733 million hectares of arable land in Africa, of which over 450 million hectares still remain uncultivated, the Agriculture Minister said: "India is very clear that while investments in Africa must lead to agricultural growth, diversification and employment, it must not be at the cost of food security."

Productivity in African agriculture lags behind other continents, while this weakness is a major barrier to development of the agribusiness sector, Pawar said.

On the other hand, agricultural land is under pressure from population increase in Asia, which has made much progress in agricultural production through better seed varieties, fertilizers, irrigation as well as credit and price support.

Expressing hope that the three-day conference will help identify business opportunities in both Asia and Africa, Pawar said: "I am glad that India is playing a catalytic role in the emerging partnership between the two continents."


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