India taking efforts to achieve sustainable agri-food system, SDGs: Minister
India on Tuesday assured the United Nations (UN) that it will continue with its efforts in transforming into sustainable agri-food systems and to achieve the targets set in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Addressing a virtual ministerial roundtable of the UN Food Systems Summit on ‘Transforming Food Systems for Achieving the SDGs: Rising to the Challenge’, Minister of State for Agriculture Shobha Karandlaje said that India has taken various steps to transform its agri-food systems into sustainable systems.
Not only to transform agri-food systems into sustainable systems, India has taken measures to provide income support to farmers, improve rural incomes, as well as address the issues of under-nutrition and malnutrition in the country, she said in a statement.
The minister also assured the summit that “India will continue with its efforts in transforming our agri-food systems into sustainable systems and to achieve the targets set in the SDGs 2030.”
Emphasizing the importance of the agriculture sector, Karandlaje said that India has a strong conviction that agriculture has to play a vital role in socio-economic transformation in developing countries and in securing a sustainable future for the planet.
Asserting that the Indian government has always been very sensitive to the issues faced by the farmers, the minister said that the government has taken various proactive initiatives to address each problem faced by them.
India is now focusing to enhance productivity, make post-harvest management robust, and give farmers and buyers a unified national market for optimizing benefits to both, she added.
Stating that India has embarked on very ambitious reforms in the agriculture sector to double the income of farmers in coming years, the minister said numerous interventions have been put in place in recent times due to which India’s farm sector performed exceedingly well even in the pandemic crisis with production surpassing earlier records.
India has created a dedicated Agriculture Infrastructure Fund worth USD 14 billion which aims to create farm gate and agriculture marketing infrastructure in rural areas by providing interest subventions and credit guarantee to entrepreneurs which will greatly help in reducing the post-harvest losses thereby directly benefiting the farmers.
Highlighting various reforms taken by India, the Minister said the government has launched a scheme for the formation and promotion of Farmer Producers Organizations to provide scale advantage to small and marginal farmers.
The agricultural marketing reforms have been undertaken which removed barriers to the interstate marketing of agricultural produce.
An amount of about USD 18 billion has been credited to the bank accounts of 110 million farmers under the PM KISAN Scheme.
India is running the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme that provides a constitutional right to every rural household to work for 100 days a year on a voluntary basis, she added.
Further, India is actively promoting organic farming for ensuring sustainable productivity, food security, and soil health.
To conserve precious water resources, India has launched a scheme to increase water use efficiency at the farm level by using micro-irrigation technologies for which a dedicated micro-irrigation fund of USD 672 million has been set up.
India has developed 262 abiotic stress-tolerant varieties of different crops, she said.
To address the issues of under-nutrition and malnutrition, India is running the world’s largest food-based safety net programmes which include the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) that served about 800 million people in 2020.
India’s school feeding program, the Mid Day Meal Scheme reached about 120 million schoolchildren.
The minister thanked the UN and other countries for accepting India’s proposal of celebrating the year 2023 as the ‘International Year of Millets’.
To address nutritional challenges and also to bring persity in agri-food systems, she said the government is supporting persification from predominantly food grain-based systems to other high-value crops like fruits and vegetables.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the UN body in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
According to the UN body, sustainable food systems don’t just help to end hunger, but can help the world achieve critical progress on all 17 SDGs.