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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

Graziano da Silva welcomes India’s efforts to fight hunger

FAO Director-General meets India’s Union Ministers to discuss food security and agriculture

8 September 2014, New Delhi, India – FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva welcomed India’s efforts against hunger in a meeting with two Indian cabinet Ministers during his visit to the country.

In a meeting with the Union Minister for Agriculture, Shri Radha Mohan Singh, and the Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vias Paswan, Graziano da Silva cited the National Food Security Act as a recent example of this commitment and highlighted the importance of India’s financial inclusion scheme as a framework for direct cash transfers.

The Union Minister for Agriculture and the Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, thanked the Director-General for the visit and highlighted the importance of FAO’s work.

“India looks forward to FAO’s active participation in meeting agriculture challenges,” Minister Singh said.

During the meeting, the ministers briefed the FAO Director-General on the significant strides made by India to achieve food self-sufficiency and successfully develop its horticulture, dairy and fisheries sectors.

The latest OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook, launched by the OECD and FAO in July with a special focus on India, projects sustained food production and consumption growth in India, led by value-added sectors like dairy production and aquaculture.

Investment in production technology and infrastructure together with subsidies in a range of areas have contributed to strong output expansion over the past decade and pressure on resources is expected to reduce production growth rates over the coming years, the report said.

The ministers also briefed the FAO Director-General on achievements made by India in boosting post-harvest management and the development of cold-chain infrastructure.

They noted how today India produces over 260 million tonnes of foodgrains, 269 million tonnes of agriculture produce and 132 million tonnes of milk. They stressed how agriculture is a mainstay of the country’s economy, contributing to 13.7 percent of the India’s GDP and providing a source of employment for 22 percent of the population.

Among the programs highlighted by the Indian authorities were the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) or National Agriculture Development Scheme, the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), and the Kisan Call Centres scheme, which provides agricultural information to farming communities by a SMS and toll-free telephone number

They added that the Indian government is encouraging small-scale farmers to mobilize to form Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and explained how the government has launched the Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for facilitate these FPOs to access equity grants.

For his part, the FAO Director-General said he appreciated India’s vibrant cooperative movement.

Graziano da Silva also expressed his hope that the technological initiatives taken by India in rice production and other crops would provide great help to other emerging economies including Brazil, Russia and South Africa in overcoming difficulties in this sector.

He also welcomed the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) decision to create a regional food bank and offered FAO’s support in its development.

International conferences

Discussions also touched upon the situation of international food prices and the multiple challenges of malnutrition, from hunger to obesity.

FAO Director General of FAO invited the Union Ministers to participate in the Third Ministerial Meeting on Governance and International Commodity Markets that will take place in October and the   Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), being convened by FAO and WHO in Rome from 19-to 21 November.