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Maldives seeks India's expertise in food processing

The Indian Ocean island has sought India's expertise in food processing and packaging technologies to boost its economy.

india Updated: Aug 05, 2006 11:52 IST

The Maldives, the Indian Ocean island nation known for its picturesque beaches and idyllic resorts, has sought India's expertise in food processing and packaging technologies to boost its tourism-oriented economy.

"Agriculture is going from one level to another. There are vast opportunities for cooperation in the field of food processing and packaging for our tourist market as well as the local market," said Maldives Minister for Fisheries, Agriculture and Marine Resources Abdulla Kamaaluddeen.

"In the field of quality control and distribution systems also, India can help Maldives," Kamaaluddeen told the agency.

He was here to attend a conference of ministers of health, agriculture/livestock on avian influenza control and pandemics in Asia.

The conference was jointly organised by the Indian government and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Poultry industry is another area where the two countries can cooperate, he said.

Despite a huge requirement of eggs, the island nation has no major poultry industry. "One or two odd poultry farms we have produce only 10,000-20,000 eggs. Maldives needs around 200,000 eggs per day," he said.

Tourism and fisheries are two vital components of the Maldivian economy and earn huge foreign exchange for the country.

Kamaaluddeen conjured up a robust picture of economic ties between the two countries and rued that the huge potential for two-way trade and investment remained largely untapped.

"India enjoys enormous goodwill in Maldives. The only foreigner allowed to do retail trading in Maldives is an Indian," he said.

India was one of the first few countries to help Maldives - home to 9,000 non-resident Indians (NRIs) - in the aftermath of the tsunami in 2004 that killed over 200,000 people in 11 countries.

India - the only country that has a defence relationship with the island nation - came to the rescue of the Maldives in 1988 when it sent troops to overthrow the mercenaries who had overpowered the anti-government forces at the request of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 1988.

The Maldivian minister also rebutted reports in the international press about the danger of the low-lying Maldives sinking in the sea.

"There is no evidence that the country is sinking. We have, however, become very cautious and are taking all steps to guard against such a possibility," the minister said.