Indian Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Friday said India and ASEAN countries faced similar agrarian challenges and sought their close cooperation to tackle them as a important part of the collaborative agenda.In his address at the 4th ASEAN-India Agriculture Ministers' meeting here, he said diversification towards higher value crops and livestock would be the answer, as it would not only improve farm incomes but also to reduce stress on the scarce natural resources, he said, according to an official statement."ASEAN and India also face similar challenges such as climate change, shrinking land base, dwindling water resources, shortage of farm labour, and increasing costs and uncertainties associated with volatility in national and international markets. "Trans-boundary diseases also remain yet another important areas of attention which requires urgent focus and collaborative efforts. This calls for close cooperation between our countries to tackle them," he said.Singh said India was committed to work with ASEAN countries to develop rural areas and eradicate poverty in line with the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
"We look forward to a closer cross-sectoral collaboration with ASEAN bodies on rural development and poverty eradication, agriculture, social welfare and development and health, among others, to ensure sustainable and inclusive development in the region."Singh said agriculture and food security remained among the prime areas of focus of the Indian government with the key objective of ensuring food and nutrition security "at affordable price in an eco-friendly environment".Stressing that the relationship between Indian and ASEAN countries holds significant promise and potential, Singh said: "I am sure we will use this opportunity to further build upon our collaborations in the areas of food safety and security, agricultural technology, food processing, value chains, agricultural marketing and capacity building and take them to newer heights."