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Re: Making agriculture work for nutrition: Prioritizing country-level action, research and support

Mr. Subhash Mehta Devarao Shivaram Trust, India

It is my view that investments in ‘Nutrition through Integrated Sustainable Agriculture and for rural producers’ to set up and staff their producer co ops/ organizations/ company (PC) with professionals will ensure over a billion smallholder rural producer communities will have access to nutritious food at farm gate prices and at the same time correct the mistakes made in the past, current and proposed supply side approaches and policies, most of them focusing on Green Revolution (GR) / conventional technologies.

Smallholder producers, mostly resource poor, illiterate, out of sight and out of mind are over burdened, as ‘Public Institutions’ providing services have deteriorated/ non-existent during the last many decades. To fill this and other gaps, rural producers need to set up and staff their producers companies (PC) with professionals, to take over these problems/ responsibilities, manage risks (other than on farm activities) and focus on costs. The PC intervention will effectively fill the knowledge and other gaps to design, implement and manage multi-sector integrated sustainable agriculture programs that work in the large scale for producing safe, nutritious and healthy food. The PC set up by rural producers is also a good platform for institutional and human capacity building, delivery of Government programmes and providing the need based management services.

Evidences from most producers who converted from conventional (GR) to the local low cost integrated sustainable agriculture, meet their communities’ nutritious food needs, have measurably and demonstrably improved the lives of rural communities - world’s most vulnerable people in developing countries. The local practices have proved that they are internally consistent for integrated sustainable agriculture and externally synergistic to these smallholder producers. The local ecology and greater overall nutritious food production for meeting their needs and at farm gate prices, suggest that integrated low cost agriculture of the area is the only way to sustainably involve the over one billion resource poor producers globally, mostly women, for economic growth and to feed the future (FTF) growing populations. This will ensure access to nutritious food security, safety of the environment; reduce hunger, malnutrition and suicides among these rural communities while improving purchasing power, net incomes and livelihoods.

The US government, through its FTF programme is working with this in mind to develop IAR4D to ‘reenergize and reorient’ and in positive ways, to grow safe and nutritious food for feeding the future (FTF) and in a short time. Further, ‘Government funding and programmes require mechanisms of accountability, ensuring that public funds invested actually benefit the marginal, resource poor and vulnerable populations’, says Rajiv Shah, Administrator, USAID. 

My views given above are in keeping with the outputs of the numerous consultation processes I have participated in over the last several years.