New Delhi: As India takes over the G20 presidency, an International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) delegation to India led by Donal Brown, Associate Vice-President of the Programme Management Department, and Reehana Raza, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, met key officials, including B.V.R. Subrahmanyam, CEO, Niti Aayog, and Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, to deepen a partnership to promote inclusive and sustainable agricultural growth in rural India, as well as to explore new areas of collaboration.
Speaking to NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India team on how sustainable agricultural growth in rural India is possible, Ulac Demirag , Country Director and Representative, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said,
Sustainable agricultural growth is only possible if we work closely with the farmers. IFAD’s has always focused on small scale producers and we are engaging with the farmers in aggregating their production and helping them reach the markets. We also focus on linking farmers to markets. Besides, providing technical assistance to farmers to optimise productivity remains another focus. We are now looking at climate smart approaches that can enhance the sustainable agricultural growth in rural India.
With respect to the meeting with the central government officials, Dr. Demriag said,
The meeting enabled us to rejuvenate the relationship with the government, focus on innovation and scaling up various welfare programmes in association with the government.
India has made substantial progress in reducing multi-dimensional poverty over the past 15 years, bringing 415 million people out of poverty. However, the country still has a significant number of poor people (16.4 percent), and under-nutrition remains a challenge. The situation has worsened due to the wide-ranging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both on- and off-farm sectors have a considerable role to play in promoting sustainable poverty reduction. Agriculture continues to employ a large number of people, with more than 40 percent of the workforce still engaged in farming and related activities. India has gone from being a famine-prone net importer of food grains to producing food for 1.3 billion people. Although it is among the top three global producers of many crops, yields are still relatively low by global and regional standards. Donal Brown said,
India and IFAD will continue to work together to amplify our efforts to create food systems that are inclusive of poor rural people, and societies where the benefits of economic growth reach all levels, not just through IFAD’s investments in India, but also through the G20. India has a wealth of experience in developing innovations for the rural poor, and IFAD is working closely with India to expand South-South and triangular cooperation. We are committed to exploring new solutions and innovations that can help small-scale farmers increase their production and incomes in a sustainable way, as well as connect them to markets.
IFAD has accompanied India’s development journey for nearly 45 years, moving from recovery and ensuring food security to building institutions, and now, to focusing on the market economy. Its current operations aims to contribute to a sustainable rural economy in India over the next decade and are fully aligned with the government’s policy framework and efforts to ensure that small-scale food systems are remunerative, and resilient to climate change and price shocks.
There is great potential for small-scale farmers to contribute in measurably significant ways to economic growth. Our goal is to enable them to become more productive by improving their skills and access to assets. As an international financial institution, as well as a UN organization, IFAD is well positioned to support the government in its planned growth trajectories, while ensuring no one is left behind, Reehana Raza
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to increase their food security, improve the nutrition of their families and increase their incomes. Dr. Demirag discussed how IFAD has always focused on working with the government bodies to reach the last mile.
A good example that comes to mind is of Odisha. The state government is making enormous efforts for rural people but it is not reaching the last mile. So IFAD’s programme OPELIP is helping to reach the government schemes to the remotest of the areas. with this programme, we aim to reduce poverty and enhance living conditions of the particularly vulnerable tribal groups through increased income and improved food and nutrition security
The delegation had recetly visited the Odisha Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups Empowerment and Livelihoods Improvement Programme (OPELIP), and saw first-hand the results of IFAD’s support. Through support from OPELIP, many families have secured land and forest entitlements in Odisha.
They have also improved agricultural practices for enhanced production and explored alternative livelihoods opportunities through micro-enterprises, such as rearing goat and poultry to sell to market.
The delegation saw piped irrigation facilities built with project support – infrastructure that has helped remote villages to access safe and regular water for household and agricultural use. With irrigation, farmers can grow crops even during the dry season. They also visited a nutrition resource centre, which doubles up as a crèche and serves as a place for tribal communities to learn about healthy eating habits.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diarrhoea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.