Ambassador’s message - Agriculture leadership summit
France would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. M.J. Khan for this invitation and, especially, for the great work done by him and his team on the special issue of Agriculture Today devoted to French agriculture, which is also the first issue of this magazine covering a foreign country.
France is not only a country of wines and gastronomy. It is also a country where agriculture plays a crucial role. Rural areas cover 86% of the total area of France. Within the European Union, France is the largest agricultural power. France is notably the largest European producer of cattle and poultry, as well as of cereals, oilseeds and potatoes.
This activity creates a significant trade surplus. It is also leads to increased job creation, especially if one includes the food processing industries. Finally, this sector has brought about essential innovations. French research in the agricultural field is recognized the world over.
France has always endeavored to elevate agricultural challenges to the top of the international agenda. This had been the case with the French presidency of the G20 in 2011. For the first time, the G20 decided on an action plan for agriculture at the international level. On the one hand, to combat volatility of prices, on the other hand, to boost agricultural production worldwide, particularly by enabling research and investments in this sector.
This year, declared as the International Year of Family Farming, France has committed itself to the protection of an agricultural model that takes into account small farmers, who represent 40% of the workers worldwide and contribute to 56% of the international agricultural production. This step is important from the perspective of food security.
Tomorrow, that is in 2015, France will preside the international negotiation on climate change. And it will evidently be necessary to address the climate concerns for the agricultural activity. Agriculture is highly exposed to the risks of climate change. At times, it is an energy intensive sector and hence has significant greenhouse gas emissions. It will therefore be necessary to find solutions that would allow global agriculture to become more sustainable and more resilient to the effects of climate imbalance, while ensuring food security for all.
India has recently achieved immense progress in the agricultural field. Today India manages a near about production of 265 million tonnes of grains, which is considerable. Indian agriculture, moreover, is increasingly visible on the international market: it is the largest exporter of rice, buffalo meat and spices. An impressive performance indeed.
Indian agriculture still has significant potential. One must address the present challenges in order to further develop this sector. And France is already a partner present and active in India.
For example, in the Cold-Chain sector, France has an active partnership with the National Centre for Cold-Chain Development (NCCD). We are helping NCCD in training Indian cold-chain experts in France. It’s a partnership based on knowledge transfer. As for investments, France is already present via French Agrofood groups, who have anticipated the “Make in India” call of the Prime Minister, Mr. Modi. Pernod-Ricard, Danone, Lactalis, Roquette and Limagrain are some European or even worldwide leaders, who have successfully established themselves in India. These companies have brought their know-how and created added value and employment in India. With respect to research, work is under way and should result in the organisation of a big symposium 2015 between the French National Institute of Agronomic Research and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research.
To conclude, we would simply say: think about France! France is doubtlessly different from India. But our country has a family farming model, characterised by excellent yields – among the best worldwide – and has a close connection with the food processing industry. Such experience and know-how can inspire India.