New Delhi — Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Jose Graziano da Silva called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi today.
The prime minister described da Silva as a champion of the “No Hunger Project” in Brazil, and called upon the FAO to take the lead in protecting the interests of the poor and the farmers at the World Trade Organisation.
The prime minister asserted that India does not stand in the way of a rule-based global trade agreement, but India cannot sacrifice the interests and food security of the poor and the farmers.
The prime minister said India was looking forward to active participation of the FAO in addressing the emerging challenges in Indian agriculture. He sought partnership with the FAO for capacity-building in food storage. He suggested that some portion of such capacity addition brought about by the FAO’s efforts through international financial institutions could be earmarked for the food and nutritional requirements of the poorest countries.
The prime minister sought the FAO’s cooperation in designing a special campaign targeted at women in India, which would highlight ways to improve nutritional value and food habits.
The prime minister also discussed ways and means for the FAO to contribute towards increasing nutritional value in the Mid-Day Meal scheme for schoolchildren, enhancing production and protein content of pulses, improving production of oilseeds, enhancing milk productivity, and modernisation of fisheries in India.
Union Minister for Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh had a meeting with the DG, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation), today. Apprising FAO of the significant strides made by India in agriculture and allied sectors during last few years, he said that India has not only achieved self sufficiency in food but also did extremely well in horticulture, dairying, milk production, fisheries, post harvest management and development of cold chain infrastructure. Today, India produces over 260 million tonne of foodgrains, 269 MT of agriculture produce, 132 MT of milk, he said.
Mentioning agriculture as main stay of the country he said that it contributes to 13.7% of the Indian GDP and a source of employment for 22% of total population.
Singh said that a growth rate of 4% has been envisaged for the agriculture sector and investments in agriculture and allied sector during 2012-13 have been of the order of Rs. 181.81 billion.
Mentioning Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) as an ambitious programme, the minister said that it will facilitate holistic development of agriculture and allied sectors by incentivising the States to increase public investment; and building robust infrastructure and creating assets for filling identified gaps.
Singh also described other important initiatives, which include National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) which seeks to address climate change adaptation technologies in the areas of resource conservation, water use efficiency enhancement, soil health management, integrated farming system and mainstreaming rainfed technologies.
The minister also apprised FAO of the Kisan Call Centres, which aim to provide information to farming community through toll free telephone number on all seven days of week and a SMS Portal for Farmers functioning since July 2013 for disseminating information, giving topical & seasonal advisories and providing services through SMSs to farmers in the local languages.
Singh mentioned the steps taken by the Government to encourage mobilisation of farmers to form Farmer Producer Organisations (FPO). He said that Government has launched equity grant Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for facilitating these FPOs to access equity grant to double member equity upto a maximum limit of Rs 10 lakh. DG, FAO appreciated the vibrant cooperative movement being run in India. He expressed the hope that the technological initiatives taken by India in rice production and other crops would help in a big way other countries including Brazil, Russia and South Africa etc. in overcoming difficulties in this sector. He also said that FAO would be proud to participate in National Food Security Mission of India. He assured that challenges being faced by India in agriculture sector would be given due priority in the agenda of various committees of FAO.