FAO in India

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India has come a long way since 1945 when it became one of the founding members of FAO as a low-income food-deficient country. Today the country is not only self-sufficient in rice and wheat, it also exports a range of food products. Moreover, at any given time India has up to 60 million tons of food grain buffer stocks. In this journey of success, FAO has been a staunch partner since 1948, when FAO operations in India first began.

For a country as large as India it is inevitable that FAO's investments in dollar terms cannot match up to the size of Government's investments in agricultural development. Yet, in terms of technical inputs, FAO has made a significant contribution. In the words of M.S Swaminathan, "world renowned agricultural scientist, FAO has played a catalytic role in India's progress in the areas of crop and animal production and food security." With its global experience, FAO has provided key policy and technical inputs in a range of areas involving the food and farm sectors.

From 50 million tons in 1950, India's food grain production rose more than five times, to over 257 million tons in 2014-15. Oilseeds production is expected to reach 40 MT this year. India is the world's largest milk producer, producing over 130 million tons annually. The dairy sector is also one of the largest employers of rural people, especially women. With an annual production of over 10 million tons, India ranks second in global fish production and aquaculture, next only to China. There remains a huge potential in marine, inland and brackish water segments. Development of water resources for irrigation has underpinned crop production. However, water scarcity and falling water tables have been a key concern in recent years. Fortunately, the importance of judicious use of water is being increasingly recognised.

Over the years, the work of FAO in India has gone well beyond the realm of food production, covering issues like access to food and nutrition, livelihoods, rural development and sustainable agriculture. With the looming impact of climate change and outbreaks of new strains of pests the work of FAO has become even more complex, making it an important knowledge partner to assist the country with informed decision-making. At the same time, India also adds great value to FAO work, providing technical expertise to other countries, also acting as an important source of development lessons.