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Food Security and Agriculture

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India has made great strides in increasing agricultural productivity.  Currently, India feeds 17 percent of the world’s population on less than 3 percent of the world’s arable land. Despite its demographic pressures and limited land, India has made effective use of agriculture technologies and innovations, invested substantial resources (both human and capital), and become one of the biggest agricultural producers in the world. 

Although the adoption of new technologies has been uneven throughout the country, India has accumulated valuable agricultural development experience and is now in a position to identify, scale up, and share these proven agricultural development practices, technologies, and innovations across India and beyond. Diffusing proven Indian agricultural innovations can contribute significantly to overcoming the challenges still present in India, including low agricultural productivity and chronic poverty, while bringing cost-effective development solutions to other countries facing food insecurity. 

USAID’S RESPONSE

Under Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, India is a strategic partner country that focuses on developing, scaling, and transferring Indian agriculture innovations to benefit focus countries in Africa. The Feed the Future partnership in India engages a wide variety of public and private sector partners from India, Africa, and the U.S. to address global agriculture development problems. As part of this effort, USAID/India builds capacity, supports collaborative research and innovation, and develops sustainable partnerships to accelerate the sharing and transfer of Indian agricultural innovations that support food security outcomes in Africa. USAID activities focus on three complementary areas:

Agricultural Development Innovations

USAID identifies and supports agricultural innovations that overcome critical constraints in increasing agricultural productivity in key staple crops and value chains in India and other countries. For example:  

  • USAID partnership with the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is developing improved varieties of pigeon pea, locally known as arhar and toor dal, to increase its productivity in India and in African countries such as Kenya and Malawi. Strong partnerships with Indian and African private sector seed companies will assure effective and efficient distribution and marketing of stress-tolerant, high-yielding seed varieties.
  • By establishing a “one-stop shop” that connects farmers to products, markets, information, and advisory services, the USAID and Confederation of Indian Industries (CII)-supported Rural Business Hubs project empowers farmers to profitably participate in agricultural markets. The hubs integrate small-scale and marginalized farmers into the market to better increase their returns. Lessons learned from this activity will provide a model that can be replicated elsewhere in India and abroad. 
  • The new Agriculture-Nutrition Alliance pilot activity will scale innovations that strengthen the linkage between agriculture production and nutrition. The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council will implement the program with funding from the Department of Biotechnology, USAID, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This program will establish a Grand Challenge to support Indian NGOs, private sector, and researchers in nutrition, agriculture, and social innovation.

Share and Transfer Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation

USAID identifies and tests innovations that have global potential for addressing food insecurity, and adapts and transfers successful innovations to other countries. Activities include:

  • Three new partnerships as part of the India-Africa Agricultural Innovation Bridge to share successful low-cost agricultural innovations and technologies with African countries. The technologies to be shared are developed by Indian innovators and include a low-cost tractor, an organic fertilizer, and a solar dryer.  All are devised to increase farmers' agricultural yields and incomes by mechanizing their operations, fertilizing depleted soils, and preventing post-harvest losses.
  • The Cereal System Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) project, jointly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID, improves cropping systems by integrating cutting-edge technologies with resource conservation and management best practices. By developing an innovative farming systems approach, this project increases farmers’ ability to adapt to climate change and rainfall variability. Best practices from these innovative approaches have already been transferred and applied in Bangladesh and Nepal. 

Build Capacity through International Exchange

USAID builds the technical capacity of Indian organizations, institutions, universities, and individuals to conduct training programs for Indian and African partners. Selected activities include:

  • The Agriculture Innovations Partnership trains Indian agricultural university faculty to modernize curricula to better prepare a market-responsive workforce and promote the uptake of new technologies through agriculture extension services.
  • The technical capacity building of India’s National Institute for Plant Health Management strengthens Indian expertise in plant health systems and enables the institute to become a regional leader in plant health management. The center will seek to expand synergies to develop training programs with select African countries.  
  • The governments of the U.S., India, and three African countries (Kenya, Liberia, and Malawi) are working together to train mid-level African government and private sector representatives at reputed Indian training institution. Focusing on modern agricultural extension practices, agricultural marketing, and agribusiness, the training prepares graduates to share technologies and management practices from India with the rest of the world.

Last updated: August 27, 2015

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