1. Home
  2. News

BIMSTEC Meet: Member Countries Discuss Food Security, Transport & Tourism at Kolkata

Among the initiatives offered by member states at a two-day BIMSTEC meeting in kolkata were bridging the gap between South and Southeast Asia through stronger transport links, planting climate-resilient crops like millet, and boosting people-to-people relationships through specialized tourist circuits.

Shivam Dwivedi
To alleviate the region's current food crisis, member nations should focus on developing climate-resilient crops
To alleviate the region's current food crisis, member nations should focus on developing climate-resilient crops

The discussions were reflected in the 'Kolkata Declaration,' which was adopted on March 25, the final day of the meeting, according to a top official of the regional organization. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand are members of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC.

"The organization can help landlocked Nepal and Bhutan get access to the huge maritime networks of the area." BIMSTEC Secretary General Tenzin Lekphell informed media that "bridging South and Southeast Asia through greater connectivity will provide various opportunities to facilitate a vibrant ecosystem for business."

The member countries have also made substantial progress in the 'Masterplan for Transport Connectivity,' which includes road, rail, air, and maritime transportation, he said. Another key topic of discussion for BIMSTEC was food security, with experts urging experts to look into opportunities in food processing and value addition to strengthen the agricultural pillar of cooperation.

"To alleviate the region's current food crisis, member nations should focus on developing climate-resilient crops with great nutritional value," Lekphell added. Previously, during the meeting's opening session, Minister of State for External Affairs Rajkumar Ranjan Singh campaigned for millet production, claiming that the food grain can be grown in "all geographical regions and climatic circumstances" and uses less water.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared this year to be the Year of Millet." It is a drought-resistant crop with a high nutrient value. Let us hope that by cultivating and popularizing such crops, we can solve food insecurity," Singh added. People-to-people connections, according to Lekphell, are critical between neighbouring member states, and different conversations took place during the conference including educational collaboration, tourism, sports diplomacy, and cultural exchanges.

"The BIMSTEC region, which has the potential to generate USD 200 billion in tourism revenue by 2024, offers enlightening cultural linkages that may improve people-to-people connectivity. "Developing Buddhist and temple circuits is one of the propositions," he stated. The necessity for a shared sports policy was also discussed, with some experts proposing the establishment of a new sporting frontier for the world to see, such as the BIMSTEC Games.

The emphasis should also be on creating clean energy technology in the solar, nuclear, and hydrogen sectors, according to Lekphell. "Member states must also emphasize the importance of creating a multidisciplinary approach to educational cooperation." The primary components of this include a technology transfer centre, a task force on traditional medicine, and human resource development

"In academics, there should be reciprocal data interchange through collaborative institutions like BIMSTEC University and BIMSTEC Centre for Coastal and Climate Disaster Management," Lekphell added. The Institute of Social and Cultural Studies (ISCS) in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the two-day BIMSTEC conference in Kolkata.

Take this quiz on World Meteorological Day to check your knowledge about meteorology! Take a quiz
Share your comments

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters