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Press Release on the visit of Mr. Sharad Pawar, Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution to the US

Washington, DC
June 7, 2006 

Indian Agricultural Minister Mr. Sharad Pawar visited New York and Washington D.C. on June 4-8, 2006. He met U.S. Agricultural Secretary Mike Johanns, U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Mr. Saxby Chanbliss and Dr. Norman Borlaug. Mr. Sharad Pawar visited New York Board of Trade, New York Mercantile Exchange and International Food Policy Research Institute. 

Mr. Sharad Pawar and Secretary Johanns discussed bilateral trade issues, agricultural negotiations in WTO and progress in India-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture. 

Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Mr. Ronen Sen hosted a dinner attended by Mr. and Mrs. Sharad Pawar, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Johanns, US Agriculture Secretary, Ms. Susan Schwab, USTR-designate, Mr. and Mrs. Steve King, Member of House Committee on Agriculture and others. 

The U.S.-India Agricultural Knowledge Initiative Board met on June 6-7, 2006. Present at the Board meeting was a full complement of Board members from both sides, including government, universities and the private sector. The Board discussed progress in the four focus areas, namely university capacity building, food processing and marketing, biotechnology and water management, and announced a number of deliverables.

Presentations by Secretary Mike Johanns, Indian Minister of Agriculture Sharad Pawar, and AKI Honorary Advisor Dr. Norman E. Borlaug were key features of the 3rd AKI Board meeting. Secretary Johannns underlined that the AKI offers a unique opportunity to revitalize the U.S.-Indian partnership in agriculture that was born of the Green Revolution in the 1960s. The benefits will:

· Raise agricultural productivity to promote food security
· Increase technology transfer, including biotechnology
· Build a sound policy and regulatory environment
· Expand trade and investment and promote integration of India into the global economy
· Ensure a key role for the U.S. and Indian private sectors, and
· Reinvigorate U.S.-India university partnerships

Minister Sharad Pawar spoke highly of the AKI and its potential contribution to a second Green Revolution in India. He said that India’s objective is to bring about a transformation in the rural economy by making agriculture a sustainable and profitable venture, especially for India’s tropical, arid and dry land areas.

Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, who spearheaded the Green Revolution in the 1960s, emphasized the continuing importance of sustainable agricultural practices to maintain a secure food supply. He underscored the crucial role that biotechnology will play in ensuring food security, as improved agricultural productivity, though biotechnology and other means, will help to feed the world’s growing population. Dr. Borlaug was pleased that the Board had addressed biotechnology as one of its four priority areas.