Agriculture plays a vital role in Indian as well as the Middle East and North African economy. More than 58 percent of rural households in India have agriculture as their main occupation. As per 2015-16 figures, agriculture and allied sectors like fisheries and forestry contribute around 17 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As per the revised estimates by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the share of agriculture and allied sectors (including agriculture, livestock, forestry, and fishery) is expected to be 17.3 percent of the Gross Value Added (GVA) during 2016-17 at 2011-12 prices. India is the largest producer, consumer, and exporter of spices and spice products. India’s fruit production has grown faster than vegetables, making it the second largest fruit producer in the world. India’s horticulture output is estimated to be 287.3 million tones (MT) in 2016-17 after the first advance estimate. It ranks third in farm and agriculture outputs. Agricultural export constitutes 10 percent of the country’s exports and is the fourth-largest exported principal commodity in India. (Source: Ministry of Commerce and India Brand Equity Foundation website). This makes India a beneficial partner in the agriculture sector.
Apart from agriculture, food processing industry is also growing in India. FY 2016’s figures suggest that through manufacturing the food processing industry contributed around 14 percent to total GDP. On the other hand if one look at MENA region one observes that the non-oil producing Arab countries too are basically agrarian economies. In these countries, agriculture can be a major driver of economic growth. However, the majority of Arab countries suffer a fromfood shortage. E.g.: The domestic production of rice and wheat fall short of domestic consumption. Apart from this Arab countries also show the lowest self-sufficiency ratio in case of a group of cereals. With increasing population and rising food demand, MENA region is increasingly becoming a lucrative market for Indian agriculture and food processing industry. Al Arabia suggests that MENA region’s food market is expected to exceed 1 trillion USD by 2030. Therefore a separate vertical of agriculture and food processing is formed at IACCIA to reap benefits of this growing market.