Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), arrives in India today to meet with key government partners. The trip presents an opportunity to expand upon the focus and partnership between India and IFAD to boost smallholder farmer incomes and alleviate rural poverty in the country.
In spite of India’s achievement of middle-income status, reducing poverty continues to be a key development priority, important to achieving Agenda 2030 and in particular the first Sustainable Development Goal, “no poverty.”
Close to 70 percent of India’s poor live in rural areas and derive their main source of income from agriculture and associated sectors. Growth and stability of the farm sector is critical to rural poverty reduction, and is well-reflected in the government’s goal of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022.
IFAD’s four decades of experience in agricultural and rural transformation through empowering rural women and men to develop remunerative, sustainable and resilient farm and off-farm businesses, can contribute to India’s rural poverty development goals.
“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,” Houngbo said prior to his visit.
“We recognize that business as usual will not work,” he said adding that “we will need innovations developed with the requirements of smallholder farmers in mind, so that they can increase their production and their incomes in a lasting and sustainable way. And we must also look at innovative ways of connecting smallholders to markets.”
While in India, Houngbo will meet with Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance, to discuss India and IFAD’s common goals. The finance minister confirmed that in 2018 “the government will concentrate on additional spending in the areas of infrastructure and rural India,” Indian media sources reported last week.
India is both a recipient and a contributor to IFAD. And while India has increased its contributions during each replenishment cycle of IFAD’s resources, India is also the Fund’s largest borrower to date, with loans totalling approximately US$1 billion, financing 28 rural development projects and benefitting an estimated 4.6 million households.
Also taking place during the visit will be meetings with Pramod Kumar Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Radha Mohan Singh, Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, and ShobhanaPattanayak, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
There are currently nine IFAD-funded projects ongoing in India. These are focused on increasing farmer incomes, facilitating their access to markets and financial services, as well as supporting agricultural development that improves household nutrition, is sustainable and adaptable to a changing climate.