AUSTRALIA is keen to include Punjab in its sustainable integrated marketing campaign especially in the area of agriculture value addition.
An assurance to this effect was given by the Australian high commissioner John McCarthy, who led a six-member delegation to Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal here on Tuesday, official sources said.
Terming Punjab as the leading agrarian state in the country, Mr McCarthy said it could be enormously benefited by Australian expertise and technology in the field of agro-processing, value addition, post harvest logistics, efficient marketing and cold chain network.
The Australian government is also interested in setting up campuses of its universities in the state in collaboration with various universities of Punjab to provide world class education in areas like science and technology, management, information technology and medicine, Mr McCarthy said, adding 15% of the students pursuing higher education in Australia are from Punjab.
The chief minister asked the Australian high commissioner to open a consulate in Punjab to provide visa services and other facilities to the people of the state. He hoped that the consulate would also be instrumental in guiding the people about the prospects of trade, commerce, industry and higher education.
Mr McCarthy assured the chief minister that he would take up the matter with the Australian government for the opening of consulate in the state as two Australian consulates were already functioning at Mumbai and Chennai in India. He also mentioned that the Australian government was considering a proposal to set up a branch office of Australian Trade Commission in Punjab to boost the bilateral trade between Australia and Punjab.
The chief minister also asked the Mr Mc-Carthy to explore the possibilities to reduce the salinity in the ground water in the state, which was a great health hazard. He informed Mr Badal that Australia had a technology in this field but it was too expensive. He invited the state hydro experts to visit Australia to ascertain the viability of this technology.