India to pitch for food security at Rome meet

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai | Updated: Nov 15 2009, 02:41am hrs
As the government strives to cope up with the increasing mismatch between food production and its availability owing to climate change and burgeoning food price index, agriculture and food minister Sharad Pawar would make Indias position clear at the three-day World Food Security Conference organised by Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome. Pawar confirmed his participation in the summit while talking to FE and said a whole range of issues would be discussed.

The summit, to be held between November 16 and 18, is taking place at a time when the UPA government has launched the national food security mission to enhance the production of rice, wheat and pulses by 10 million tonne, 8 million tonne and 2 million tonne, respectively, by the end of 11th plan.

The agriculture and food ministry sources told FE, The climate change and its adverse impact on foodgrains production, and food security in particular, would be aggressively taken up at the summit. As far as India is concerned, climate change has already affected wheat production in Punjab, Harayan and Western Uttar Pradesh. India would call upon the developed and developing countries to jointly tackle this problem.

Besides, Pawar would raise the issue of limitations of technology on increasing foodgrain production given the availability of land and water. In India, land under cultivation has remained almost the same for last five decades while water has increased marginally. The argument is that there is enough availability of foodgrain and food in the world. However, it is skewed. Thus, India would put forward its suggestion that developed and developing countries ensure world food security is not threatened and nobody goes hungry, sources said. Pawar would also discuss meltdown and its impact on agriculture. Worldwide, emphasis is being laid on investments in industry and infrastructure. Investment in agriculture has thus taken a back seat. There is an urgent need that agriculture is brought to the forefront, sources noted.

Incidentally, FAO in its publication observed that the financial crisis has its origin far from the agricultural sector and far from the developing countries, where its most devastating effects on the poorest segments of the population are being felt. Recovery from global economic recession would depend on factors beyond the areas of food and agriculture. However, the impact of recession requires immediate and effective measures to protect the poor and food insecure who are the most affected victims of the crisis.

There is a need to step up investments in agriculture with the dual purpose of stimulating sustainable productivity increases to expand supply and of exploiting the potential of agriculture for contributing to economic development and poverty alleviation in the least developed countries. In this regard, high prices also represent an opportunity for agricultural producers and imply higher returns to investments in the sector.