To accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals, it is imperative that policy makers support transformations in the region’s food system, and some of the greatest changes to India’s food system are coming from rapid urbanization,” Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI said in New Delhi today.
Delivering keynote address at an international Conference on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through agriculture in India, Fan said, “ Connecting farmers to cities can raise incomes in rural areas and help meet urban food and nutrition demand.”
While India met several of the Millennium Development Goals – the precursor to the SDGs – much of the country continues to suffer from poverty and food insecurity. More than 300 million people in South Asia live in poverty, with up to 71 percent of them living in India. Improving the country’s agricultural sector presents an opportunity to address both urban and rural development needs.
The two-day conference was organised by IFPRI, the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences(TAAS), and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).The conference comprised up to 150 participants, including government officials, agricultural scientists, and development agency experts.
Fan emphasised on the impact of rapid urbanization on development and food security in India, as well as the role agricultural research plays in meeting the SDGs. His address included key findings from IFPRI’s 2017 Global Food Policy Report, an annual analysis of developments in food policy around the developing world, which focuses this year on the impact rapid urbanization is having on health, poverty, and development.
Many of the session’s discussions also focused on the role of technology in meeting the development goals. Breakout sessions looked at the broad applications of technology in genetic enhancement, natural resource management, and farm mechanization, as well as its role in specific agricultural sectors such as crop production and livestock management.
“Access to technology is already beginning to change the landscape of agriculture” said Fan. “Take cell phones for example. More than half of farmers who provide food to Delhi are using cell phones to directly negotiate prices for staple crops. Leveraging the power of technology can help connect farmers to markets, optimize agricultural output, and ultimately improve livelihoods.”
Established in 1975, the IFPRI seeks sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty. It aims to identify and analyze alternative national and international strategies and policies for meeting the food needs of the developing world, with particular emphasis on low-income countries and on the poorer groups in those countries.