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India can become a food production hub, hope farmers & govt clinch a deal — Danish envoy

Ambassador Freddy Svane says Uttarakhand glacier burst is a sign that India & Denmark need to work more closely on climate change issues.

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New Delhi: Denmark believes India can become a global hub for food production if it taps into its huge, untapped agricultural potential, and hopes the government of India and the agitating farmers will find an amicable solution to the ongoing protests, the country’s ambassador to India Freddy Svane has said.

“We take no position on the farmers’ issue; that’s for the farmers and the Indian government to decide. I hope, of course, that they will be able to clinch a deal,” Svane told ThePrint in an interview.

“In Denmark, the (farming) tradition has been a little bit like here in India. But over the years, what has changed is that farmers have turned into business people, and of course, that kind of a change will result in a lot of frustrations,” the envoy observed.

Svane also spoke about the Uttarakhand river flash flood, which he said was “yet another sign” that his country and India both need to work together on climate change issues.

“We all know that climate is changing and we have calamities, natural catastrophes have been happening every year, every day… You just had the burst in Uttarakhand and we pray for those who lost their loved ones. But climate is changing and we really need to work together,” Svane said.

Svane, who used to head the Danish Agricultural Council from 2008-2010, said India has huge potential in the farming sector.

“So I hope that, without taking any party (sic) in this, that there will be a solution that can secure India and allow it to tap into its huge potential enabling it to become a global hub for food production. There is shortage of food in the rest of the world,” the ambassador said.


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Innovation in irrigation and other climate issues

As thousands of farmers continue to stage protests around Delhi’s borders over the three controversial farm laws, issues of climate change have also come to light, such as cropping patterns and irrigation systems.

Ambassador Svane said Danish companies are now partnering with Indian firms for bringing innovation in irrigation systems, giving the example of Crysberg, which has partnered with the Mahindra Group for micro-drip irrigation.

What is needed, Svane said, is “smart and intelligent pumps” in India’s irrigation system to avoid using too much water in the fields.

He said India and Denmark recently had consultations to identify some key sectors — finance, energy, water and climate change — where sustainable solutions can be made.

No country, Svane said, can solve the climate issue alone.

In September 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen held their first virtual summit, in which both the leaders agreed to elevate India-Denmark relations to a Green Strategic Partnership.

Ambassador Svane said: “Uttarakhand is just another sign that we have to work together. So that’s something we are looking very much into. That’s why we reached out to a lot of countries and India, of course, given its size of 1.3 billion people, is a very important nation. So we reached out to India and that led to the green strategic partnership.”

Svane also believes that with the US now under the Joe Biden administration and returning to the Paris climate accord, there is going to be a “strong” focus on climate change issues.


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Clean and green technology generates new jobs

According to the Danish Ambassador, the more India adopts clean and green technologies across all sectors, the more it will result in the generation of new jobs.

“Given that the climate challenges issue is not local but global, we have to work together… Denmark is a small country but we have the skills and we have the solutions,” Svane said.

He also said that Denmark and India need to work bilaterally to find out new and innovative solutions, more importantly now, because after the pandemic, addressing climate change issues and sustaining the economy have become major a challenge.

India and Denmark have also developed an action plan of all the climate change projects they are working on, Svane said.

“We are not telling India to do X, Y, Z; we are bringing our technologies and skills to India. India has the scale as Prime Minister Modi put it… We are in full agreement with the Indian side that we need to work bilaterally, but we also need to work globally to tackle this issue,” he said.

“Green transformation is not just about making nice statements. Based on our experience, this is also a job generation scheme… Thousands of jobs can be created and will help in developing the economy post-Covid in a sustainable way,” the ambassador added.


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