UN Farm Fund Chief Applauds India’s Emphasis on Millets and Wheat Exports to 18 Nations
India‘s Focus on Millets and Wheat Exports Lauded by President of IFAD during G20 Presidency
Alvaro Lario, the President of the International Fund of Agricultural Development (IFAD), has commended India for its renewed emphasis on millets and its significant wheat exports to 18 countries. Lario believes that India’s G20 presidency has the potential to bring about transformative changes in global food systems, aligning with the priorities of the IFAD. In an interview, Lario expressed his appreciation for India’s export of 1.8 million tonnes of wheat to countries facing food shortages resulting from the war in Ukraine. During his visit to India for the G20 agriculture ministers meeting, Lario acknowledged India’s expertise and its potential to support agricultural and rural development in other countries of the Global South.
The IFAD, a specialized agency of the United Nations, focuses on financing projects in vulnerable and impoverished nations to combat poverty, hunger, and food insecurity. Lario also highlighted India’s thoughtful leadership in South-South cooperation and commended its focus on the revival of millets. Millets are considered crucial crops for farmers adapting to climate change due to their drought-resistant nature, and they play a vital role in ensuring nutrition in some of the most impoverished and remote regions worldwide.
Lario emphasized that India, under its G20 presidency, can play a significant global role in transforming food systems. He defined a food system as encompassing all aspects of food production, including growing, harvesting, packaging, processing, transportation, marketing, and consumption. Lario noted that cumulative shocks such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and climate change have severely impacted global food security, leading to a crisis in African countries. He stressed the importance of investing in medium to long-term development to avoid similar costly crises in the future.
The consequences of the conflict in Ukraine have had a profound humanitarian impact, resulting in soaring food and fuel prices globally, which adversely affect the world’s most vulnerable populations. Additionally, access to affordable energy and fertilizers has been limited, leading to catastrophic consequences for small-scale farmers who contribute significantly to global food production and access to markets.
Lario highlighted the need to address the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine by investing heavily in medium to long-term development and focusing on key areas identified by India’s G20 presidency, including global food security and nutrition, climate-smart agriculture, inclusive and pro-poor value chains, and digital technology solutions. He emphasized that the IFAD’s expertise and partnership with governments can enhance public investment efficiency and attract private investors to make food systems more sustainable.
Acknowledging that small-scale farmers are responsible for up to 70% of the food consumed in low and middle-income countries, Lario stressed the importance of climate finance to mitigate emissions and help economies adapt to climate change. He emphasized the need for increased climate finance to meet global commitments under the Paris Agreement, as small-scale producers currently receive a meager 1.7% of climate finance.
Lario concluded by highlighting the estimated requirement of USD 300 billion to USD 350 billion annually to revamp food systems, a relatively small amount compared to the inefficiencies of the current global food systems. He called for collective efforts to make public investment more efficient and attractive to private investors, with the aim of achieving sustainable and resilient food systems.
Also read this article: Former Head of Pakistan’s Central Bank Expresses Concern Over Impending Default Crisis