IFAD Chief Visiting India To Help Poverty Eradication Drive

Rome: The UN International Fund for Agricultural Development’s President Gilbert F. Houngbo will hold talks with the Indian government in New Delhi this week to boost joint efforts to wipe out poverty in the world’s largest democracy, IFAD said in a statement on Monday.

Houngbo’s talks with key government ministers will seek to strengthen joint efforts to boost farmers’ incomes, forge sustainable food systems, mitigate the effects of climate change on agriculture and review projects that have already empowered more than one million rural women, the statement said.

“As one of the countries hardest hit by climate change, the partnership between India and Ifad and its shared work to build the resilience of rural communities has become increasingly important. Ifad maintains its commitment to India to support their efforts in fortifying smallholder food production to be economically, socially and environmentally viable,” Houngbo said.

India has set an ambitious goal of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022. Despite India’s achievement of middle-income status, eradication of rural poverty remains a critical challenge, according to the statement.

While being able to produce enough food to be self-sufficient, rural communities face challenges in raising household incomes, improving nutrition, and tackling the effects of climate change, it noted.

During his visit to India, Houngbo will meet Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to strengthen Ifad’s partnership with the Indian government. He will also meet Rural Development and Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries Minister Giriraj Singh and policy think-tank Niti Ayog’s Vice Chairman Rajeev Kumar, the statement said.

There are currently seven Ifad-funded projects in India that support state governments’ efforts to increase farmer incomes, improve their access to markets and financial services, and promote sustainable, climate-resilient agricultural development that improves household nutrition.

The IFAD delegation led by Houngbo began the visit on Sunday from the western state of Maharashtra where Houngbo met women who have developed and grown their agricultural businesses through the IFAD-funded Tejaswini Rural Women’s Empowerment Programme.

Although formally completed in 2018, the programme implemented by the Maharashtra Women Development Corporation, continues to support women’s development by strengthening self-help groups and providing access to financial services, agricultural technical training, literacy training and business planning and development. Besides socially and economically transforming the lives of over a million rural women, the programme has enabled self-help groups to mobilise an additional $300 million in financing, the statement underlined.

IFAD has directly invested $1.28 billion in 30 rural development projects in India since 1979, benefitting an estimated 5.2 million households.