According to a leader in the Indian poultry industry, "This is the decade of agriculture and things have to change." This was a consistent theme encountered earlier this month by a U.S. Grains Council team of India market specialists who kicked off the first round of the Council's "agricultural dialogue series."
The agricultural dialogue series is a new Council initiative designed to develop an innovative approach to market development in India. It's funded by the USDA's Emerging Markets Programs.
The Council's project addresses the future U.S.-India agricultural relationship as inevitable pressures of population growth and limited resources will drive innovation and the accompanying policy changes that help provide long-term food security.
Although India continues to produce and export corn, the demand for high-quality feed, as well as the continued strength of the starch manufacturing sector, will tax India's corn supply.
The Council's initial agricultural dialogue series centered around three roundtable sessions in Mumbai, Ahmadabad and Delhi. Each session included a team from the Council meeting with different groups, from the Confederation of Indian Industries to starch manufacturers to the Federation of Chambers of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Council representatives also met with key agricultural stakeholders and potential participants in future dialogue sessions.
USGC Director of Trade Development Rebecca Bratter said the group was encouraged by the level of engagement in all dialogue sessions, as well as the consensus that this is time to focus on agricultural modernization. Building strategic partnerships with local industry groups will help create a platform of cooperation and collaboration to build on for future technology transfer efforts.
Bratter said the Council team was particularly encouraged by the level of interest in the use of U.S. distiller's dried grains with solubles. The Council will work with industry partners in India to analyze market potential for DDGS, as well as some of the existing barriers to imports. These include a ban on biotechnology, the continued application of high tariffs and concerns with weed seeds.
"Trade can be a valuable option for food security, as an opportunity to trade means access to reliable supplies. That would help poultry producers and others who use grain to meet the growing needs of consumers," Bratter said.
The Council will return to India in August for the next round of dialogue sessions and will be working with CII and FICCI to develop agendas and focus. The Council will remain focused on assessing the market in India at both the policy and market level and will complement this work by looking at opportunities in neighboring countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.