33) ICRISAT hosts World Bank staff meet on new strategy (19 January 2004)

Hyderabad-The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is hosting a meeting of top World Bank officials on the Bank's new agriculture and rural development strategy. Attending the meeting on 19 to 22 January are the Bank's sector directors and managers for agriculture, rural development and environment from its headquarters in Washington DC and country program managers from eight countries in Asia and Africa.

ICRISAT Director General William Dar, speaking through Dyno Keatinge, Deputy Director General, said that it is a great opportunity to host the World Bank's regional meeting to discuss its new agriculture and rural development strategy.
Keatinge said that both the World Bank and ICRISAT share the common goals of alleviating rural poverty in Asia and Africa through increased crop productivity. This meeting will give an excellent opportunity for senior World Bank and ICRISAT officials to interact and dovetail strategies to meet this goal.

The objective of the Bank's new agriculture and rural development strategy is to meet the millennium development goal of poverty development. Since agriculture still contributes a significant portion of the GDP of many of the developing countries this can only be achieved through increase in agricultural productivity.

According to Dr Shawki Barghouti, Adviser to the World Bank, there is an increased emphasis on agriculture and rural development in the World Bank. International agricultural research institutes like ICRISAT, which operate under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) play an important role in improving crop productivity, livelihoods and food security in the rural areas.

Barghouti, who was formerly Director General of ICRISAT, added that the meeting at ICRISAT is a starting point in this direction, since it discusses on how the new Bank strategy can be made relevant for South and East Asia.
Kevin Cleaver, Sector Director (Agriculture and Rural Development) in the World Bank, said that the Bank is expanding its agriculture and rural development assistance worldwide. This meeting is designed to bring experts together from South and East Asia, as well as ICRISAT, to discuss strategies to facilitate this increase.

In South Asia, the rural sector is critical to the successful poverty reduction. About 290 million people in this region, constituting 76% of the poor, live in the rural area. Agricultural growth is critical for poverty alleviation since this sector employs 60% if the labor force and contributes 30% of the GDP. The challenges in this region are to go beyond the Green Revolution goal of achieving food self-sufficiency to finding competitive markets for agricultural produce.

An international symposium on poverty alleviation will also be held during the World Bank meeting.

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