March, 02, 2023, 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.
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.
“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,” said Donal Brown. “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,” he added.
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,” said Reehana Raza. “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.”
The delegation visited the Odisha Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups Empowerment and Livelihoods Improvement Programme (OPELIP), and saw first-hand the results of IFAD’s support. Participants reported improved living conditions and higher incomes. Through support from OPELIP, many families have secured land and forest entitlements.
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.
During the five-day visit, the delegation also met Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, Odisha chief secretary, as well as key officials from the state. They also met partners from the United Nations system.
To date, IFAD has supported 32 rural development projects in India, one of the organization’s founding members. These interventions worth US$1,211.94 million have directly benefitted 6,341,436 families. Read more about IFAD’s work in India