Food security at the top of India’s agenda

India and FAO strengthen efforts to promote the country’s food security and agricultural development. 

Key facts

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 produces over 260 million tonnes of food grains, 269 million tonnes of agriculture produce and 132 million tonnes of milk. Agriculture is a mainstay of the country’s economy, contributing to 18 percent of India’s GDP and providing a source of employment for more than 47 percent of the population.* FAO has been a staunch partner in this journey of success since 1948, when our operations in India first began. In recent years, our efforts in the country have gone beyond the realm of food production, concentrating on providing technical assistance for incorporating best practices to generate agricultural outlooks, facilitating adoption and promotion of improved livestock management practices, and building knowledge and capacities of communities to adapt to climate change. At the same time, India is also an important knowledge partner for FAO, providing technical expertise to other countries, and the lessons learned from programmes implemented over the years are now being applied in other parts of the world.

In order to achieve the most impact with respect to India’s vast and highly heterogeneous food and agriculture system, FAO  is working to facilitate the country’s multilateral cooperation in areas such as trans-boundary pests and diseases, livestock production, fisheries management, food safety and climate change.

Working with the Government, FAO provides technical assistance and capacity building to enable the transfer of best practices as well as taking lessons learned from different countries and applying them to India’s agriculture system.

Demonstrating integrated models for small holder poultry and small ruminant (goats and sheep) development in arid and semi-arid regions
The South Asia Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Programme (SAPPLPP) aims to strengthen capacities and knowledge of both government and non-government actors for implementing sustainable small ruminant and smallholder poultry rearing interventions, based on lessons learnt from pilot interventions. Apart from policy advocacy work, including knowledge management and networking, the programme is supporting three pilot projects in the states of MadhyaPradesh and Rajasthan. The programme is supported under an FAO TCP grant (USD 385,000 over two years), with co-funding (approximately USD 300,000) from the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), Government of India (GoI). The pilot projects are being implemented in partnership with local NGOs.

The programme has successfully demonstrated the contribution of small ruminants and back yard poultry to the household economy, and highlighted the importance of these sub-sectors as major contributors to pathways out of poverty.

A fully active cadre of women community animal health workers (CAHWs), known as Pashu Sakhis, is providing regular preventive veterinary care services at the two pilot locations in the Khargone and Jhabua districts of Madhya Pradesh. Each pilot project covers a cluster of 10 villages. The CAHWs work to promote improved livestock management practices and preventive veterinary care against major small ruminant and poultry diseases (Peste des Petits Ruminants, Enterotoxemia, etc.(in goats), and New Castle Disease (in poultry)).

Pashu Sakhis maintain vaccination records and monitor and report disease outbreaks. They are linked to government veterinary hospitals and dispensaries in the area. Community response to the Pashu Sakhi model of service has been extremely positive, helped by demonstrated reductions in animal mortality (from 37 to 7% in the goat pilot, and from 76% to 48% in the poultry pilot, over a period of eight months), improved returns (income increase between USD 100 and 200 in the first year), as well as savings on veterinary care costs.

An initiative for furtherance of policy dialogue on the small ruminants’ agenda in the western state of Rajasthan has been the establishment of a state forum of goat and sheep development. The programme is also facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue and discussion, along with the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, MoA, for standardisation of training curriculum and modules for CAHWs in the areas of small ruminant animal husbandry practices and veterinary care.

Building community capacity for coping with impacts of climate change
FAO has been working to increase community capacities to adapt farming patterns and apply strategies that minimize the effects of climatic variations in India. To this end, seven drought-prone districts in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were involved in a successful pilot project, whose model is now ready to be applied to other agro–climatic zones.

Referred to as SPACC (Strategic Pilot on Adaptation to Climate Change), the intervention covered nine hydrological units and was implemented via a network of nine non-governmental organizations (NGOs), led by the Bharathi Integrated Rural Development Society (BIRDS).

Participatory climate monitoring (PCM) stations were established in 25 villages across the project area. Seven climate parameters, including wind direction and velocity, rainfall and sunshine hours,  were regularly recorded and registered by a group of nearly 300 volunteers. Results recorded in the volunteers’ record books were then disseminated at the habitation level, using display boards.

Climate Change Adaptation Committees (CCACs) were formed as a coordination and consultative mechanism, managing the climate monitoring system at the habitation and hydrological unit levels and ensuring dissemination of the information and knowledge gained.

Men and women farmers equally participated in Farmer Climate Schools, established in partnership with the CCACs. Participants collected data on climate-related factors and analyzed their impact on agricultural livelihoods, subsequently making more informed decisions on adaptive measures and developing action plans accordingly. During the pilot period, 1 156 farmers (650 female, 506 male) graduated from two school cycles.

Cutting-edge outlooks improve reporting on food and nutrition security
India has been able to generate outlooks for its agriculture sector for the first time as a result of the project “Incorporating International Best Practices in the Preparation of Agricultural Outlooks and Situation Analyses for India”.  In less than a year, eight quarterly and three biannual reports have been produced, and 26 briefings have been delivered to senior policymakers.

The project is also a successful example of the use of digital technologies to improve the reliability and timeliness of collection, collation and transmission of data on crop conditions, production and markets.

What this information does is to aid predictions and planning at global and national level, thereby strengthening efforts to address food and nutrition security worldwide.

The latest OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook, launched in July 2014 with a special focus on India, projects sustained food production and consumption growth in the country, led by value-added sectors like dairy production and aquaculture.

Late 2014, Director General José Graziano da Silva and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, agreed on how to further strengthen efforts to promote India’s food security and sustainable agricultural development during talks held in New Delhi.

Share this page