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'India brings food safety net programmes to forefront even more effectively under G20 presidency'

Sharing the progress of agriculture initiatives taken so far under G20, the official said a total six initiatives are being implemented, including Agriculture Marketing Information System (AMIS), Platform for Agricultural Risk Management and International Initiative for Wheat Research.

'India brings food safety net programmes to forefront even more effectively under G20 presidency'

Wednesday September 06, 2023 , 4 min Read

India on Wednesday said it has brought food safety net programmes to the forefront even more effectively under its G20 Presidency and that the agriculture working group has come up with a "historic consensus" on two aspects including millets.

A top official of the Union Agriculture Ministry said it is historic because ever since the agriculture working group was formed, food security and nutrition have always been a key priority agenda, but agriculture ministers have never come up with a standalone kind of declaration over and above the ministerial communique.

"This is really a historic moment where agriculture ministers have come up together to deliberate on the issue of food security and nutrition.

"It has come up with seven principles and agreed to champion these principles," Smita Sirohi, Joint Secretary in charge of G20-related matters in the Ministry of Agriculture, told PTI just ahead of the September 9-10 Summit here in Delhi.

She said the historic consensus on two aspects relates to Deccan G20 High-level principles on food security and nutrition; and the millet initiative—MAHARISHI.

The high-level principles on food security and nutrition are a set of seven principles: humanitarian assistance; increasing food production and food security net programmes; climate-smart approach; inclusivity of agriculture food system; one health approach; digitalization of agriculture sector; and scaling responsible public and private investment in agriculture, she added.

Sirohi said during Indonesia's Presidency last year, India was able to highlight that it was not only important to increase foodgrain production but also food safety net programs in developing countries like India.

"And this year, this was brought to the forefront even more effectively," she said.

The official further said the food safety programs, which otherwise come under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) scanner, are important for developing countries like India.

"We have been able to create awareness and information campaigns among the developed world, that if India is insecure then the world cannot be food secure," she said.

Even in the past communique, from 2011 till 2020, before the G20 Indonesia Presidency, none of them found any reference to food safety net programs to achieve food security, the official said.

India ensured it got a reference on the importance of the food safety program last year and it was again emphasized this year as well, she said.

Sirohi said many countries from the Global South are "looking towards India" to learn from the food safety programs, especially the implementation and governance mechanisms.

Asked if the outcome document will reflect the concerns and priorities of member nations, the official said, "The outcome of the agriculture ministers meeting, the consensus will definitely be reflected in the leaders' summit. That's for sure."

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India currently provides free foodgrains to 810 million poor beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act. The scale of this welfare scheme makes it the largest food security program in the world. The country is also implementing the Poshan Abhiyan initiative for improving key nutrition parameters for both children and women.

Stating that India brought in a lot of focus on agriculture in this year's meeting considering its importance for Global South, Sirohi said besides food safety programs, there were discussions on 'biofortification of crops' that were never touched in the previous meetings of agriculture ministers.

Even regenerative agriculture, natural farming and millet were discussed in this year's meeting, she added.

Asked if there was discussion on free trade between member nations for agricultural commodities, the official said trade related issues are governed by the WTO and not per se by G20.

"But G20 countries have come together to make commitments and these commitments have been made earlier also. We actually endorse and recognise the importance of free, fair transparent trade. And we resolved that we are not going to make any unjustified restrictions which disrupt the global food supplies," she said.

Sharing the progress of agriculture initiatives taken so far under G20, the official said a total of six initiatives are being implemented, including Agriculture Marketing Information System (AMIS), Platform for Agricultural Risk Management and International Initiative for Wheat Research.

These initiatives are still working well, she stated and added that all countries participated in the stock-taking exercise of these six initiatives this year at a meeting held in Indore this year where there was an overwhelming suggestion to bring in 'fertilizer' and 'vegetable oils' under the ambit of AMIS to track their supply-demand and price movements.

As of now, only four commodities—wheat rice, maize and soya—are tracked under the AMIS.


Edited by Kanishk Singh