REEHANA RAZA, Regional Director, Asia and the Pacific Division, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), speaks to HARIKISHAN SHARMA on IFAD’s work in India, climate change, G-20 and other issues. Edited excerpts of the interview.
What kind of work the IFAD does in India?
The IFAD’s mission is to alleviate rural poverty. It works in the area of agriculture, agricultural productivity. It is focused on small-holder farmers. In India, we have six projects. The total IFAD lending is about $1.2 billion but with co-financing it is about $3.89 billion.
How have the challenges of agriculture development changed over the past 10 or 20 years in India?
I don’t have the institutional memory because I am relatively new. But I think clearly we are in a very different time. IFAD was founded after the first oil shock and food crisis in 1973 and that really provided the impetus of looking at how you can strengthen food security and food production in the developing world…We are in another food crisis and [that is] very much driven by external shocks… I think the issue of climate change and its impact on small-holder farmers… Only 1.7% of climate finance is going to small farmers and yet they produce one-third of the food in the world. So, the real question for us is how to make sure we are directing financing to this very important group… And also now, of course, with the food crisis looking at food security. That is where our focus is. Historically I don’t know what the projects were but these are the projects now, essentially based on small-holder farmers.
What per cent of the IFAD funding in India goes to climate resilient agriculture?
100% of our funding goes to small-holder farmers… At IFAD, our focus is to ensure that 40% of our funding is going to climate action. In India, that would be our goal as well. So, this 40% of funds that are coming to India should be going to climate adaptation. That is the objective.
How do you see India’s role in today’s food security scenario?
India is going to lead the G-20… India is the fifth largest economy in the world right now. So, I think in terms of agenda-setting, the Indian government has a huge opportunity for the G-20… I think the Indians are putting on the agenda about climate justice, about who really pays… Climate change ishappening now and developing countries are paying the price… So, I can get the sense that they are pushing the agenda that way.