China and India, Asia's largest and third-largest economies, respectively, are preparing the ground for a new avenue in their bilateral ties — that of food management.
Chinese investment in Indian agriculture is likely to follow.
Minister of State for Agriculture KV Thomas held a series of meetings with Chinese food authorities during a "very successful" visit this past week. He also met Han Changfu, the Chinese agriculture minister, and Niu Dum, his deputy.
What India — which is readying its flagship food security law — wants is access to technologies China uses to preserve its grain holdings, the world's largest, an official said.
"We are keen on cooperation in the food sector. A review meeting on all this is slated for tomorrow," Thomas told HT on Tuesday.
The road to better relations between Beijing and Delhi could well pass through their farms. The minister scoured food labs and silos in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Dalian, Asia's largest specialised food handling port.
Things could get off the ground during a return visit by Chinese food experts likely in October.
The technologies for grains that India is eyeing from China's state administration include power ventilation appliances, computer-controlled temperature measuring systems and recycling fumigation devices, a source said.
Getting a food security law to work will require India to raise both its farm yields and storage space sharply. Inadequate storage space and wastage have stoked food insecurity in the world's second most populous country despite good harvests.
According to a Planning Commission report, preventable post-harvest losses of foodgrains are about 20 million tonnes a year or 10.5 per cent of India's total production. Lost grains are keeping millions hungry.
India ranks 66th out of 88 countries on the 2008 Global Hunger Index.