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Re: Policy outreach and communications - what works for improving food security and nutrition at the country level?

Subhash Mehta
Subhash MehtaDevarao Shivaram TrustIndia

Policy outreach and communications – what works for improving food and nutrition security?

Suggested Success Story Template for Producers/ Disseminators of FSN Information ( feel free to write short notes or use bullet points)

Name of your organization, country


Devarao Shivaram Trust, INDIA

Your role


Who are your target users?

Governments, Multilateral Organisations, International Research Institutions, Donors, CSO/ NGOs, Producer org/ companies (PC), etc.

How do your target users use the information you provide and how do they give you feedback on their emerging  needs?

Information is provided as soft copy for use in the manner most appropriate for achieving their objectives.

They will either support my contributions, disagree or just keep silent when they do not want to be seen folowing a line/ stand. 

What role do intermediaries* (‘champions’ in government, media, etc) play ?

Intermediaries become champions and make appropriate interventions at meetings, conferences, at different levels, putting across their points of view having had exposure to the reality on the ground.

What is the main communications or policy outreach challenge you face?

Outdated institutional mandates, curriculums and TORs as a result of which the wrong people are in high places, allowing little or nothing to change over the last 15 years, except using some sexy words like smallholder producers, increased incomes, inclusive, climate change, etc., but the mainstream system sticks to their market oriented high cost economies of scale green revolution technologies being the cause of the present crisis in agriculture, with most rural producer communities deeper in debt, hungry, malnourished, getting poorer, committing suicide.

What recommendations would you give to someone, in a similar organization, wishing to improve the uptake and relevance of the information  they produce?

UN orgs – UNCTAD, UNRFC, FAO, IFAD, Donors, etc., have put on top their focus on ‘Public Funds for Public Good’, being directed at meeting the AR4D and funding needs of the rural poor smallholder producer communities’, for them to set up producer org/ company (PC) staffed by professionals (general practitioners [GPs]/ MBAs in agriculture) to take over all risks and responsibilities and managing the cash to cash cycle, leaving members to on farm activities. Convert to and follow low cost agro ecological – organic systems of their area primarily to produce and thus have access to nutritious food for their own requirements, at little or no cost, since they do not have the money to buy from the open market.

In your own words , tell your success story !

I have been a part of GFAR since its formation, as I happened to be living in Rome at the time. My interventions at the time was for AR4D to move in the direction of meeting the needs of the dry land and rain fed farmers following organic principles. For obvious reasons most ignored, some even looked down upon me as the numbers involved were less than 1%.

I then shifted gears and coined the phrase ‘rural poor smallholder producer communities’, writing a paper on the subject, jointly with Dr O P Rupela, Principal Scientist, ICRISAT, circulated to the GFAR, Delhi,  invitees/  delegates/ participants . This paper did attract attention, thus giving us reason to focus and pursue our advocacy for these communities, at all platforms (e consultations, face to face meetings, etc.,  in preparation for GCARD I), especially as most smallholders do follow organic principles by default and we did succeed in persuading Dr R B Singh, former ADG, GCARD's Senior Consultant, to re write the outputs and focus on meeting the needs of the smallholder producers. A few weeks before GCARD I, Monpellier, a few of us CSO/ NGOs intervened in the consultation process and voluntarily contributed a ‘White Paper’, as attached, which then came to be the conference document as the Uma Lele, contracted to write the conference document, held it back in light of our document having reached the delegates/ invitees/ participants and was circulated by the GFAR secretariat after the conference.

I am happy that our efforts has put the smallholder producer communities’ AR4D needs on top of the table, reports, etc., and will continue till the UN orgs’ focus on meeting the AR4D needs of these communities,  converting back to their low cost agro ecological – organic systems thus access there nutritious food requirements, at little or no cost, reducing hunger, malnutrition, poverty, effects of climate change, suicides whilst improving livelihoods, increasing net incomes & purchasing power and  long term sustainability is pursued.