Ex Director General  José Graziano da Silva
Artículo de opinion del Director General de la FAO José Graziano da Silva

India can play a leading role in eradicating hunger worldwide
By José Graziano da Silva
Originally published on 04 September 2014 by Hindu Business Line

Can India defeat hunger and malnutrition? It’s a question that’s been asked many times  and at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), we are confident that  the answer is not only ‘yes it can,’ but that India, a founding member of FAO, can play a leading role in eradicating hunger worldwide.

Following independence in 1947, India resolved to tackle the scourge of famine that had repeatedly blighted its human and social landscape for hundreds of years.  In a matter of decades, with political fortitude and technical ingenuity, the spectre of famine was finally laid to rest.  Ever since, India has continued to develop the expertise, knowledge and capacity to win the war against hunger. It has already proved its ability for innovation in the Green Revolution that saved millions from hunger. It has established state-of-the-art science and technology institutes and its agricultural research facilities attract researchers from across the Asia-Pacific region, making India a respected international development figure.

India also has one of the most impressive economic growth rates of recent years and is at the forefront of a movement through which countries with emerging economies seek to play a larger role in international development. As one of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), it was at the vanguard of the initiative to establish a BRICS development bank in 2016 with an Indian as its first president.

Collectively, these efforts and developments help move India and the world forward to the ultimate goal of eradicating hunger and ensuring food security.

Indeed, around the world gains have been made in our common objective to reduce by half the proportion of hungry people by 2015 – a key Millennium Development Goal. India has 20 million fewer hungry people than it had in 1990 while the percentage of undernourished fell by 35 percent during the same period.

But we must be under no illusion about the monumental task still before us. Despite our collective efforts, there are still more than 800 million hungry people on this planet – and nearly one in four of them live in India. We must aim for zero hunger – it is not just a moral imperative, it is also a path to social justice and a preventative measure against civil unrest.

The challenge of ending hunger at home for India and the will to play a more significant role on the international scene are mutually supportive goals. In this respect, we are seeing the growing importance of South-South Cooperation where the exchanging of ideas and development solutions is inspiring and helping others to find their own answers to overcoming poverty and hunger.

Each country needs to find its own solutions for enhancing food security, and successful stories in India and throughout the world provide inspiration and ideas – from intensive and innovative research institutes to learning from the experiences of smallholder and family farmers.

In India and across the Asia-Pacific region there is increasing awareness of the role that family farmers and smallholders play in eradicating hunger and conserving natural resources, central elements of the sustainable future we want. Fittingly, the United Nations named 2014 the International Year of Family Farming.

Many of India’s family farmers are subsistence producers who may struggle to grow to meet their own families’ needs. At the same time, experiences in many countries show that family farmers respond well with increased sustainable production if the appropriate policy environment is effectively put in place.  We need to transform family and smallholder farming to make it more productive, more profitable to the family farmer – and sustainable – as part of the solution to eradicating hunger. That is a future to which we should all aspire.

We must also recognize that while fighting hunger remains our biggest challenge, malnutrition manifests itself in many ways. How to ensure adequate nutrition and firmly place the right to healthy diets near the top of the global development agenda will be center-stage at the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) which is being jointly organized by FAO and the World Health Organization and will be held in Rome from 19-21 November this year.

The world has a lot to learn from India. Its unbroken narrative from ancient agriculture based civilizations of the Indus valley to the modern, largest democracy in the world today, has been a constant source of ideas and inspiration worldwide.   FAO and India have a deep rooted history of cooperation. At FAO, we are committed to continue that work with India to promote food security and sustainable development in India and around the world. Together, we can reach the ultimate goal of food security for all and hunger for none.