Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar, and Minister of Agriculture, Waterways & Environment of Fiji, Dr. Mahendra Reddy signed an MoU(Memorandum of Understanding ) for cooperation in the field of Agriculture and allied sectors between India and Fiji in a virtual meeting held on Tuesday.
On the occasion, Narendra Singh Tomar said that India believes in the spirit of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’. India has helped all the countries in the same spirit even during the pandemic under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ‘’PM Modi has focused on agriculture and the development of villages from the very beginning,’’ he added.
The Minister said that many efforts have been taken in the country, including the establishment of a 1 lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund and the creation of 10,000 FPOs. During the pandemic, farmers were provided loans worth Rs. 2 lakh crore, resulting in higher yield and earnings.
The signing of this MoU will prove to be a milestone in further strengthening the multi-faceted cooperation between the two countries. Cordial and friendly relations between India and Fiji are based on mutual respect, cooperation, and strong cultural and people-to-people ties. Prime Minister Modi’s historic visit to Fiji and the first Forum for India Pacific Islands Cooperation have given a new impetus to India’s engagement with Fiji and the Pacific region.
Narendra Singh Tomar said, “Food and agriculture are closely related to climate change. Both countries are cooperating in dealing with global challenges in this regard. Despite the pandemic, we have been able to distribute about 7 tonnes of seeds of 14 varieties of fruits and vegetables as requested by Fiji, as a grant from the Government of India, for the livelihood restoration of communities affected by Cyclone Yasa.”
Fiji’s Minister Dr. Reddy expressed happiness over the MoU and stated that both nations will keep their mutual ties dynamic in the same spirit.
The MoU provides for cooperation in various areas of dairy industry development, rice industry development, horticulture Industry development, root crop diversification, coconut Industry development, food processing industry development, water resources management, agriculture mechanization, agricultural research, animal husbandry, cultivation, value addition, and marketing, pest and disease, post-harvest and milling, breeding and agronomy.
The MoU will remain valid for a period of five years from the date of its signing and any variation to its duration will be approved in writing by both parties. A Joint Working Group will be created under the MoU to set down procedures and plan and recommend programs of cooperation in order to achieve the goals. The Working Group will hold its meetings alternatively in India and Fiji once every two years.
India’s links with Fiji commenced in 1879 when Indian laborers were brought there under an indenture system to work on sugarcane plantations. Between 1879 and 1916 around 60,553 Indians were brought to Fiji. After that Indian traders and others began to arrive in Fiji in the early twentieth century.
In 1920, the indenture system was abolished. Prior to Fiji’s independence in 1970, India had a Commissioner since 1948 to look after the interests of people of Indian origin. It was later upgraded to High Commissioner after independence.
The indenture system was abolished in 1920. Prior to Fiji’s independence in 1970, India had a Commissioner since 1948 to look after the interests of the Indian people. It was later elevated to High Commissioner after independence.
Visit of Prime Minister of India
The visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to Fiji in 2014 was a watershed moment not only for India-Fiji relations but also for India’s relations with all the Pacific Island Countries.
During the visit three MoUs were signed-
(i) MoU for Extending a Line of Credit for Establishing a Co-Generation Plant in Fiji
(ii) MoU on Cooperation in the field of training of diplomats
(iii) MoU on the Earmarking of Land for their Diplomatic Missions in the respective Capitals.
India–Pacific Island Cooperation
India’s relationship with Pacific Island nations has become stronger with the evolution of Act East Policy, resulting in the setting up of the action-oriented Forum for India–Pacific Island Cooperation (FIPIC). The first and second editions of the FIPIC were held in Fiji (2015) and Jaipur (2016). During the FIPIC Summits, Prime Minister articulated India’s desire to be a close partner of the Pacific Island nations with its developmental agenda.