The 8th Meeting of Agriculture Experts of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Countries was held virtually in India on 31 August 2021. Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research & Education & Director General, ICAR chaired the daylong meeting with Dr. Thanda Kyi, Deputy Director General, Department of Planning, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, Republic of the Union of Myanmar Co-Chair. The meeting was attended by experts from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand.


Global transformations in agriculture and food systems and the UN Food System Summit 2021 were brought to the Chairman’s attention. Through encouraging the exchange of knowledge, germplasm, students, and experts among the BIMSTEC Member States, he encouraged members to deepen and strengthen engagement and cooperation in agriculture and allied sectors. In addition, he stressed the importance of addressing biosafety and biosecurity concerns as well as promoting digital agriculture in order to develop resilient agriculture, food systems, and value chains.

It was noted by BIMSTEC Members that India has been offering six scholarships each for Master’s and PhD programmes in agriculture, in addition to its other efforts to develop the seeds sector. During the meeting, the meeting participants discussed cooperation in the areas of high impact transboundary diseases of livestock and poultry; aquatic animal diseases and bio-security in aquaculture; and digitalization to promote precision farming.


  • This BIMSTEC organization is a unique link between South and South-East Asia, with five countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka from South Asia and two countries – Myanmar and Thailand from South-East Asia collaborating in 14 key areas.
  • In 1997, BIMSTEC was founded with the aim of promoting mutual trade, connectivity, and cultural, technical, and economic development in the region.  The initial list of six sectors for sectoral cooperation included trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism, and fisheries expanded to 14 areas of cooperation. Agriculture is one of the 14 sectors. 
  • Since nearly 1.7 billion people, or 22 percent of the world’s population, live in BIMSTEC countries, agriculture & allied activities are vital to the economic and social development of the region.
  • Located in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal, it is a contiguous region made up of seven countries.
  • The Bangkok Declaration created this sub-regional organization on June 6, 1997. The region includes five countries from South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka) and two from Southeast Asia (Myanmar and Thailand).
  • In the beginning, the economic bloc had four members with the acronym BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation). Following the inclusion of Myanmar during a ministerial meeting in Bangkok on December 22, 1997, the group was renamed BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
  • The grouping’s name was changed to Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) after Nepal and Bhutan were admitted at the sixth ministerial meeting.
  •  India has been putrying to make BIMSTEC a vibrant forum because SAARC’s various regional initiatives have stalled due to Pakistan’s unwillingness to cooperate.
  • As BIMSTEC enjoys the strength of connecting South and Southeast Asia, it is an ideal choice for India to take forward its key foreign policy priorities, such as ‘Neighborhood First’ and ‘Act East’. 


The 4th Summit of BIMSTEC Heads of States in Kathmandu on August 30-31, 2018 emphasized the need to intensify agriculture cooperation to enhance food and nutrition security, conserve and promote traditional farming knowledge, and reduce costs, increase income and mitigate risks for farming communities. The 1st BIMSTEC agriculture ministers’ meeting, held on July 12, 2019 in Myanmar, also reinforced stronger agricultural cooperation among BIMSTEC countries. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the food system, this has assumed even greater significance.

At Krishi Bhawan, New Delhi, Senior Officers from DARE and ICAR attended the virtual meeting. These included Under Secretary, DARE, and Director, DARE; Managing Director, ICAR, and Deputy Director, IARI.

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