Press Release by International Food Policy Research Institute.

New Delhi, India – On Thursday, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences, and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research began a two-day international conference in New Delhi on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through agriculture in India.

While India met several of the Millennium Development Goals – the precursor to the SDGs – much of the country continues to suffer from poverty and food insecurity. More than 300 million people in South Asia live in poverty, with up to 71 percent of them living in India. Improving the country’s agricultural sector presents an opportunity to address both urban and rural development needs.

“To accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals, it is imperative that policy makers support transformations in the region’s food system, and some of the greatest changes to India’s food system are coming from rapid urbanization,” said Dr. Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI. “Connecting farmers to cities can raise incomes in rural areas and help meet urban food and nutrition demand.”

Fan provided a keynote address on the impact of rapid urbanization on development and food security in India, as well as the role agricultural research plays in meeting the SDGs. His address included key findings from IFPRI’s 2017 Global Food Policy Report, an annual analysis of developments in food policy around the developing world, which focuses this year on the impact rapid urbanization is having on health, poverty, and development.

The conference comprised up to 150 participants, including government officials, agricultural scientists, and development agency experts.

Many of the workshop’s discussions also focused on the role of technology in meeting the development goals. Breakout sessions looked at the broad applications of technology in genetic enhancement, natural resource management, and farm mechanization, as well as its role in specific agricultural sectors such as crop production and livestock management.

“Access to technology is already beginning to change the landscape of agriculture” continued Fan. “Take cell phones for example. More than half of farmers who provide food to Delhi are using cell phones to directly negotiate prices for staple crops. Leveraging the power of technology can help connect farmers to markets, optimize agricultural output, and ultimately improve livelihoods.”