To feed UAE, India plans special farms, infrastructure for export

NEW DELHI: In response to the UAE addressing India's energy security needs, India and the Emirates are drawing up ambitious plans for India to underwrite some of UAE's food security interests. After the recent visit of the Abu Dhabi crown prince, the two countries are trying to fulfill the leadership's intent to show results as articulated in the joint statements signed in August 2015 when the PM went to Abu Dhabi and the second in January 2017.

As a first step, India is working on what is called a "farm-to-port" project, said Amar Sinha, secretary in ministry of external affairs.

This would be something similar to a special economic zone but in the style of a corporatised farm, where crops would be grown keeping a specific UAE market in mind, with dedicated logistics infrastructure all the way to the port. The concept has been accepted by both governments, he said. The changing food security laws in India may not apply to the produce from these special food zones. If successful, it would create a whole new sector for agro-industries. Addressing a think tank, Ananta Centre, on the roadmap of cooperation between India and the Gulf states, Sinha said the new focus area was defence and defence production.

"We want to use our skills, capital, technology, and partner with international companies for production opportunities in the region." An example, he said, was the Rafale, which has been bought by both countries. An effort, he said, would be made to see if joint production of spares and components could be accomplished.

Teams from both countries would be meeting soon to take this forward it won't be easy, given the rigid offset rules in both countries. On the security front, India and the UAE, he said are cooperating to make sure that fugitives are denied any safe havens in each other's territory.

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