US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unfurled new signposts in bilateral ties – such as a new security pact, tie-ups in energy, health and agriculture -- at a joint news conference on Monday, where both premiers largely stuck to the script but nonetheless underscored their strong relationship, with Obama resting his hand firmly on Singh and Singh responding with a tight embrace.
The leaders announced new initiatives in agriculture collaboration designed to address two of India's biggest farm worries – food security and crop weather forecast, which was first reported in the Hindustan Times on November 2.
The President's delegation already consists of USAID administrator Raj Shah and agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, with both agencies playing a significant role.
The showpiece of the collaboration is an Indo-US tie-up to design a more accurate model to predict India's increasingly erratic monsoon.
An increasingly truant southwest monsoon remains a big worry for the government, as two-thirds of Indians depend on farm income and 60% of India's farmed areas remain outside its irrigation network.
The Singh-Obama initiative will largely build on areas already being worked on. The aim to raise food yields by harnessing joint technologies. "America helped bring about a Green Revolution. The aim is to turn that into an Evergreen Revolution," the American president said, talking to reporters after a delegation-level meeting at Delhi's Hyderabad House.
Specific deals were signed in the areas of market access, food security and weather forecasting. The widened scope of farm tie-ups have already being hammered outf following an MoU signed between the two countries in March.
The spadework for the monsoon mission began in July when Planning Commission member, K Kasturirangan, and secretary in the department of earth sciences, Shailesh Nayak, visit-ed the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. The US model should be available to India to work on by December.
India has homed in on the US model, called the "Couple Forecasting System", for two reasons. One, it combines both oceanography and atmospherical sciences, unlike the Indian model that relies mainly on the former. Two, scientists feel the US model can be better adapted to Indian conditions.
Once access is granted, scientists from the Indian Council for Agricultural Research and Indian Space Research Organi-sation will team up with NOAA to fine-tune it to suit India's needs. First, it should predict sudden breaks in monsoon cycle fairly accurately and, secondly, enable more short-term and localised predictions, such as district level predictions.