Rain or Shine, North Dakota’s Agricultural Ties with India Are Growing

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by Sarah Wang
Soybeans featured prominently on North Dakota’s first trade mission to India. Image: Flickr user Stephen McCoy.

The last week of February 2016 marked a pivotal moment in North Dakota’s relationship with India, its 8th largest export market. Under the leadership of Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goeherig, a delegation of North Dakotan companies traveled to India on an inaugural trade mission.  The delegates traveled to eight Indian cities to highlight the utility of North Dakotan specialty crops, soybeans, and commercial products in hopes of further increasing trade between the Roughrider State and the 3rd largest Asian economy. Of particular interest is India’s growing middle class, which is expected to grow to 680 million people by 2025.

The trade mission was made possible by a recent visit in November 2015 by the Consul General of India, Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, to North Dakota. During his visit, Dr. Sayeed visited local soybean processing facilities and North Dakota State University’s Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering Department. He also gave a talk on “Doing Business in India” in partnership with the North Dakota Trade Office to highlight opportunities for North Dakotan businesses to invest in India.

Although this was its first trade mission to India, North Dakota has been involved in India’s agricultural sector for over a decade. Like many crops, soybeans require a large amount of water, a resource that is often lacking in India despite yearly monsoons. That is where Weather Modification, Inc. comes in. Started in Bowman, North Dakota in 1961 by entrepreneurial farmers, Weather Modification, Inc. has been working with Indian farmers to seed clouds via insertions of silver iodine since 2003. To date, Weather Modification, Inc. has had four projects in India, ranging from meteorological services and weather radar systems to building aircraft for cloud seeding.

North Dakota is no stranger to agricultural trade with Asian nations, as it also hosted delegations from Southeast Asia in 2014 who were interested in learning about opportunities for increasing their soybean imports from the state.

Sarah Wang is the Event Coordinator and a Project Assistant at the East-West Center in Washington.