The first visit of an Indian minister to Italy, after the swearing in of Giorgia Meloni’s government was by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, Shobha Karandlaje. Hon. Karandjage, member of parliament from Karnataka, visited Rome to promote the “Year of the Millets” at the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). 2023 has been declared by the UN as “the year of the millets” by Indian sponsorship, India produces 20% of the world’s millets.
At a pre-launch in New Delhi on Monday, Commerce and industry minister of India, Piyush Goyal asked industry to take India’s millets story global, approach newer markets, make them organic and sustainable.
Goyal said that millets will help resolve the global problem of malnutrition and take affordable food to parts of the world faced with food security issues. Besides being healthy, he said, they use less carbon to be produced, can also be an intermittent produce and millet hay works as fodder for animals.
During the visit to Rome, Minister Karandlaje visited the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) leading the Indian delegation at the 171st FAO council. She also met the Italian Minister for Agriculture, Francesco Lollobrigida to discuss bilateral issues on Agriculture between Italy which has advanced agricultural technologies and India which is the world’s largest democracy and soon to be the world’s most populous nation.
Agriculture is of great importance in India, apart from its population, over 50% of India’s workforce is engaged in agriculture which produces around 35% of its GDP. From a country which was an importer of food, 75 years ago at independence, India today is not only self-sufficient, but also an exporter of agricultural produce.
As the world heads toward a volatile geopolitical flux, first with a pandemic and now with the Russia-Ukraine war, food security and environment have become synonymously important agenda items for the global community. India is most qualified to lead the discourse as it will soon replace China as the world’s most populous country. Apart from promoting and celebrating the “Year of the Millets”, India also has assumed the Presidency of G20 since the 1st of December 2022. At a critical point in human history, Prime Minister Modi’s “One Earth-One Family-One Future” motto brings forth India’s foreign policy doctrine of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (“The World is one Family”).
The reception was hosted in honor of the Minister Karandlaje on Monday evening by HE Dr. Neena Malhotra, Ambassador of India to Italy and Permanent Representative to the UN institutions in Rome, was attended by diplomats, institutional representatives from Italy, members of the UN institutions in Rome as well as the Indian diaspora.
Among dignitaries present were Senator Lucio Malan, President of the Parliamentary Group of Fratelli d’Italia, HE Alessandra Schiavo of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy. Diplomats, Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives from France, Mexico, Israel, Niger, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Malaysia and several other countries were present. Also in attendance were the Director General of the FAO HE Qu Dongyu and the special representative of the European Union for the SAHEL Emanuela del Re.
The ministerial delegation was one of the first to travel on the ITA Airways Rome-Delhi direct flight which was inaugurated on Sunday.