Feb 08, 2017
SDGs have raised the bar for development in India, feels Nigel Brett from the UN agricultural arm, IFAD.
Nigel Brett, Country Programme Manager at International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in an interview to OneWorld South Asia, said that with 30 per cent of the world’s poor, India is crucial for the success of SDGs. Excerpts from the interview:
OneWorld South Asia: What kind of challenges do you see for IFAD in the Asian Pacific region, especially India?
Nigel Brett: IFAD has an active programme in twenty countries in Asia and the way we work is very much in partnership with our host governments. We respond to local priorities by having a consultative process with partners within the country to indentify the current challenges facing the agriculture and rural development sector.
We work in diverse geographies ranging from countries in mountain areas like Nepal and Bhutan to the island nations in the pacific region like the Maldives. In India, we are trying to reach out to some of the most marginalised groups like the indigenous tribal groups, small holder farmers, women and girls which are still far from the mainstream development process.
In India, we are trying to empower women by mobilising them through self help groups so that they can exercise a stronger voice not only at the house level but also at the community level.
OWSA: How are you helping farmers in raising their incomes?
Brett: We are focusing on connecting remote rural areas to the markets. This helps in attaining twin targets of food security and boosting farmer’s income by selling farm products directly to the market.
In partnership with the Indian government, IFAD is trying to help the small farmers to take advantage of emerging market opportunities, so that they can increase their incomes.
We are trying to strengthen the value chain which has the biggest potential. It is difficult to set up value chains in remote areas because at times it takes a complete day to walk from one village to other. There is no access to road and local markets.
Our approach is based on identifying those products that offer a potential for aggregation or trust based production. For example, a field visit to Meghalaya revealed the market potential of products like ginger, turmeric, pineapples and local varieties of oranges.
OWSA: How do you reach to different stakeholders for raising incomes in rural areas?
Brett: In Maharashtra, we have individual farmers producing food for private players. In Uttarakhand, we have group of farmers forming collectives and selling their produce in bulk to urban buyers.
The resourceful farmers need to be connected with the interested private players by an honest broker that can bring these two parties together.
So, the private sector companies whether be it Indian private sector firm like Feel Fresh or international companies like Tesco and Unilever can talk directly with the farmers and invest their money in training the farmers for their requirements of various kinds.
OWSA: How will SDGs help the government in formulating better development policies?
Brett: Looking at extremely successful achievement in reaching MDGs, India is also a global leader in striving towards Sustainable Development Goals. India has 30 per cent of the world’s poor. Therefore, if India is successful then we succeed globally, if India does not succeed than we do not succeed globally.
Many government sponsored national schemes are feeding into the success of SDGs. Some of these type of initiatives are ground breaking and I take my hat off to the government of India for having really taking the lead in introducing these type of approaches. The bar for development has been now set even higher with the SDGs.
We cannot leave anybody behind. In India, we still have population, which is very marginalised, so there is still plenty of work to do. I feel that Indians have achieved a lot and they are moving in right direction, and I am confident that India will succeed.