11)Reducing global hunger by half in 2015 still possible

The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing the world’s 1020 million undernourished people by half between now and 2015 is still possible.

This was revealed by Dr William D Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) last week during a three-day International Conference on Eliminating Hunger and Poverty: Priorities in Global Agricultural Research and Development Agenda in an Era of Climate Change and Rising Food Prices in Chennai. The seminar was organized to mark the 85th birthday of Dr MS Swaminathan, the acknowledged father of India’s Green Revolution

Dr Dar said that the MDG target can still be attained if the “business as usual” approach is replaced by a new strategy to fight hunger, which is inclusive of poor women and children.  

This strategy, which ICRISAT coins as IMOD (inclusive market-oriented development), is a dynamic progression of smallholder farmers from a subsistence level towards market-oriented agriculture.

Studies of the World Bank and ICRISAT have shown that dryland poverty rates in Asia are declining compared to that of sub-Saharan Africa as emerging Asian urban markets absorb farm produce as opposed to their African counterparts.

“ICRISAT recognizes that market benefits are mainly captured by men, so we must be proactive to ensure that that it includes women and children,” Dr Dar said. He suggested that women form groups that could gain access to land similar to the Market Garden cooperatives in West Africa, where women produce vegetables with the help of water conserving drip irrigation.

Setting up a five-point agenda for policy makers to bring down the number of malnourished people, Dr Dar called for higher investments in agricultural research and extension; bringing in new players such as the private sector, philanthropic organizations and development investors to invest in agriculture; adopting a country-led bottom-up approach; adding to decision makers information by policy experiments and pilot projects; and fulfilling commitments made to enhance food security.

Lauding Dr Swaminthan’s efforts in harnessing science as a tool to alleviate poverty in the world, Dr Dar termed the former as a visionary, eminent policy maker and an inspiring leader who played a pivotal role in bringing ICRISAT to India.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.