(L-R) Drs P Parthasarathy Rao, R Padmaja, Shalander Kumar, K Dakshina Murthy and Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka at the conference held in Karnal, Haryana. Photo: J Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT

Research in rural economics and social science vital to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals

(L-R) Drs P Parthasarathy Rao, R Padmaja, Shalander Kumar, K Dakshina Murthy and Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka at the conference held in Karnal, Haryana. Photo: J Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT

(L-R) Drs P Parthasarathy Rao, R Padmaja, Shalander Kumar, K Dakshina Murthy and Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka at the conference held in Karnal, Haryana. Photo: J Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT

The 26th Annual Conference of the Agricultural Economics Research Association (AERA), India, focused on Agriculture and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as how economic and social science research contributes to the SDGs. One plenary session conducted by ICRISAT looked specifically at achieving the SDGs in the drylands through building more resilient agri-food systems.

Leading scientists such as Dr CA Ramarao, Principal Scientist, Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), and Dr P Parthasarathy Rao, former Principal Scientist at ICRISAT, spoke on ‘Vulnerability assessment due to climate change at the district level in India’ (https://www.slideshare.net/icrisatsmco/district-level-vulnerability-assessment-26th-annual-confernce-of-aera-india-by-dr-c-a-rama-rao) and Markets and their transformation’ (https://www.slideshare.net/icrisatsmco/markets-for-agriculture-transformation-under-drylands-123478121), respectively, connecting these topics to the goal of reaching several of the SDGs.

Dr K Dakshina Murthy, Senior Scientist, ICRISAT, discussed farm-level climate change impacts and adaptation strategies to build farm household resilience of rainfed farming systems in the drylands of India. (https://www.slideshare.net/icrisatsmco/climate-change-impacts-and-adaptation-strategies-to-build-the-resilience-and-farm-household-income-of-rainfed-farming-systems-in-sat-india-aera-2018-dakshina-etal)

Many rural households in semi-arid regions are highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate variability and change, especially drought and heat stress. The Government of India has been promoting several adaptation options for these households. However, it has been observed that overall long-term farm household resilience does not improve just by adopting a few climate-smart adaptation (CSA) practices.

Therefore, under a multi-disciplinary project called AgMIP a location-specific CSA package (including biophysical, socio-economic and policy components) was developed. This method integrated climate, crop and economic modeling to assess potential impacts of climate change on farm households in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh. Simulation revealed that vulnerability was not uniform across Kurnool district and impacts varied across climate scenarios. Therefore, location-specific adaptation strategies linking technologies, policies and infrastructure are needed to improve the resilience and adaptive capacity of rainfed farm households to climate change.

The need for a unified approach for institutionalizing resilient dryland agriculture (https://www.slideshare.net/icrisatsmco/a-unified-approach-for-institutionalizing-resilient-agriculture-under-drylands) was emphasized by Dr Shalander Kumar, Principal Scientist, ICRISAT, highlighting a case study of Telangana state, India. ICRISAT, with its partners, has developed a unifying approach to implement climate-resilient agriculture policies and an evidence-based framework to guide investments and policymaking to scale up climate-resilient agriculture.

Dr R Padmaja, Senior Scientist, ICRISAT, highlighted the need for a systems perspective to handle the malnutrition crisis in developing countries, especially in India. (https://www.slideshare.net/icrisatsmco/agrifood-systems-diets-and-nutrition-microlevel-evidences-with-a-gender-perspective-from-selected-locations-in-india). Based on findings and analyses of two in-depth studies, ICRISAT scientists discovered that while there was progress in improving nutrient adequacy, other factors such as micronutrient inadequacy, social dietary bias and lack of dietary diversity still exist. Therefore, they recommend an ‘agri-food systems’ perspective of looking at various dimensions – production, marketing, consumption, social and health – to understand the malnutrition crisis in India.

Tying together all the above aspects, Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka, Assistant Director General, External Relations, ICRISAT, strongly recommended a holistic approach to reaching several SDGs by focusing on Smart Food – food that fulfils all criteria of being good for you, the planet and the farmer. She advocated that rather than exclusively implementing the above interventions in silos, solutions be found that fulfil all the criteria of Smart Food. She recalled how development had initially focused on food security when faced with mass starvation; later, with recognition of hidden hunger, nutrition security was added to the agenda. Now, the global discourse is about sustainable diets. https://www.slideshare.net/icrisatsmco/smartfood-good-for-you-the-planet-the-farmer-by-joanna-kanepotaka-assistant-director-general-external-relations-icrisat

The AERA Annual Conference was held at ICAR – National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana during 15-17 November 2018.

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