Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “the country does not stand in the way of rule-based global trade but the interests of its poor and farmers cannot be sacrificed”.
The Hindu reports the PM’s explanation to Dr. Jose Graziano da Silva of the UNFAO: India had refused to agree to the World Trade Organisation’s text proposed in Geneva in July because it wanted more attention paid to its concerns over WTO limits on stockpiling of food. If implemented these would adversely affect its subsidised food distribution programme, the world`s largest, targeted at nearly 850 million people.
Brazilian Director-General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation Dr. Jose Graziano da Silva and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at their meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday.
After describing Mr. da Silva as one of the champions of the “No Hunger Project” in Brazil, the Prime Minister:
- sought FAO’s cooperation in designing a special campaign targeted at women in India, which would highlight ways to improve families’ nutritional value and food habits;
- requested partnership with the FAO for capacity-building in food storage;
- discussed the potential for India’s expansion in aquaculture and other sectors;
- explored ways of linking family farming production to school meal programmes by creating local food procurement programmes – as pioneered in Brazil;
- asked the FAO to contribute towards increasing nutritional value in the mid-day meal scheme for school children, enhancing production and protein content of pulses;
- set out plans for improving production of oilseeds, enhancing milk productivity and modernising the fisheries sector in India
- and expressed an interest in engaging young scientists, drawn from academic institutions in the BRICS countries (namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), on agriculture issues.
Ashwani Maindola, writing on the Food and Beverages website, reported that Graziano da Silva agreed strategic stocks were important and it was imperative for national governments to have the necessary tools to ensure the implementation of policies that contribute to eradicating hunger.
Both men agreed that food security comes first and national governments must have the flexibility to put in place suitable mechanisms to achieve this.
Radha Mohan Singh (agriculture minister) informed Graziano da Silva that India has achieved self-sufficiency in food and done well in horticulture, dairying, milk production, fisheries, post-harvest management and development of cold chain infrastructure.
He spoke about the 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 rain-fed technologies. The writer notes that NMSA is now taking a more cautious approach to biotechnology than the former government.
Graziano da Silva said that FAO would be proud to participate in India’s National Food Security Mission. He assured that challenges being faced by India in agriculture sector would be given due priority in the agenda of various committees of FAO.
He then invited the Indian government to further discussions on the issue at the third ministerial meeting on governance and international commodity markets, in Rome on October 6, 2014 and to the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), which would take place in Rome between November 19 and 21, 2014, and be co-convened by FAO and the World Health Organisation (WHO).