UN agricultural arm IFAD to grant $150 million to India in next 3 years

United Nation’s International Fund forAgricultural Development ( IFAD ) will provide grants worth $150 million (about Rs 1,001 crore) to India in the next three years to aid the farm sector, a top official said.

“IFAD will invest $150 million in the next three years for the agriculture sector in India,” Oscar Garcia, Director, Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE), IFAD told PTI.

The Rome-based agency has been working in India since 1978. It has provided $17.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects reaching about 45.9 crore people in rural areas to reduce poverty.

“We see that the projects take longer time to run, around 16 months on an average. That affects the performance of the overall project. We understand the reasons why this happens, because we are working in remote areas where sometimes the state capacity is not that strong,” he said.

The agency has shared the concern with the government, and both of them are working collectively on the issue.

Garcia said IFAD wants to make sure that benefits of its interventions in the rural areas remain once the projects are over to ensure sustainability of the work.

“I think better convergence with the schemes and programmes of the government of India is a very good way to ensure a better sustainability of benefits,” Garcia said.

The Lead Evaluation Officer, IOE, IFAD Fabrizio Felloni said there is a need for better linkages of farm produces with markets that will improve the efficiency and make households self sufficient.

Felloni said IFAD projects in rural areas have been able to improve the material conditions of the households and health of women , among others.

The agency is also introducing technological solutions so that farmers can fetch better prices of their produces, he said.

“The Government of India assured funding in public programmes. But we look more and more on quality and that the projects are well targeted,” Felloni said, adding it will communicate these with state and central governments to scale up the projects in future.

On the recurring drought conditions in India, Garcia said there is a need for more sustainable use of water resources in rural areas as well as more conscious approach towards natural resources management.

Besides, to reduce the wastage of perishable produces in India due to lack of infrastructure, IFAD is working with other UN agencies to fill the gap, he said.

“We are aware of some other initiatives taking place to improve the efficiency of distribution chain to reduce waste of food , which accounts close to 40 per cent. We will be partnering other UN agencies who are working in this field,” Garcia said.

Source: Economic Times

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