One way to grow jobs for New Jerseyans is to strengthen ties with India.
That's what Assemblymen Upendra J. Chivukula thinks. Chivukula (D-Somerset\Middlesex) and other officials expounded on that theme at a symbolic planting last week in Harding Township in Morris County.
There, Chivukula and Assemblyman John F. McKeon were joined by New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher and Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Sharma from the Indian state of Haryana to plant Jasmine, a flower that is widely grown in India.
Chivukula, who lives in Franklin Township, Somerset County, has represented the 17th district in the NJ Assembly since 2002. Chivukula is challenging incumbent , a Republican, for the 7th Congressional district seat.
The 7th district has recently been redistricting and now covers large portions of Union, Morris, Hunterdon and Somerset counties, parts of Warren County, and Millburn in Essex County.
In Union County, the 7th Congressional district includes Berkeley Heights, Clark, Cranford, Garwood, Kenilworth, Mountainside, New Providence, a portion of Scotch Plains, Springfield, Summit, a portion of Union, Westfield and Winfield.
"It is a proud moment for me to see the beginning of what we hope will be a fruitful relationship between New Jersey and Haryana, a state in India, which is a rising power and one of the world's fastest-growing economies," Chivukula said. "The export of goods and services including scientific know-how on advanced agricultural processes to India can help bring revenue to our state and create jobs."
Also participating in the ceremony were Adam Costello of Wightman's Farms and Dr. Sudhir Parikh, an Indian-American community leader. The event took place at the Wightman’s Farms.
"It is an honor that the symbolic planting to sow the seeds of friendship and trade ties between New Jersey and Haryana took place in my district at the scenic Wightman's farms which offers a diverse range of agricultural fare," McKeon said.
"From discussions I had with Assembly Speaker Sharma, I believe both our states can benefit from sharing information in areas like water management, river clean-up and the protection of precious natural resources," he added.
Food and agriculture are New Jersey's third largest industry, following pharmaceuticals and tourism. In 2011, New Jersey's estimated 10,300 farms generated cash receipts totaling $1.1 billion. The nursery/greenhouse/sod industry remained the leading commodity group with cash receipts of $451.1 million.
According to Chivukula's office, the symbolic planting on July 23 was the first such initiative in recent history between New Jersey and a state in India.
New Jersey is home to one of the nation's highest populations of Indian-Americans that comprise the largest component of Asian-Americans, the fastest-growing group in the state. They account for 8.3 percent of New Jersey's nearly nine million population.