Rehana Raza, Regional Director, Asia and Pacific Division, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), talks 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 does IFAD do in India?
The mission of IFAD is to reduce rural poverty. It works in the field of agriculture, agricultural productivity. It focuses on smallholder farmers. In India, we have six projects. Total IFAD lending is around $1.2 billion but with co-financing it is around $3.89 billion.
How have the challenges of agricultural development changed in India in the last 10 or 20 years?
I don’t have institutional memory as I am relatively new. But I clearly think we are in very different times. IFAD was founded in 1973 after the first oil shock and the food crisis and it really provided the inspiration to see how you can strengthen food security and food production in developing countries… We are in another food crisis are in and [that is] Very driven by external shocks … I think the issue of climate change and its impact on smallholder farmers … only 1.7% of climate finance is going to small farmers and yet they account for a third of the food in the world produce. So, the real question for us is how to ensure that we are directing funding to this important group … and even now, of course, with the food crisis in view of food security. That’s where our focus is. Historically I don’t know what the projects were, but now they are projects, essentially based on smallholder farmers.
What percentage of IFAD funding in India goes to climate resilient agriculture?
100% of our funding goes to smallholder farmers… At IFAD, our focus is to ensure that 40% of our funding goes to climate action. This will be our goal in India as well. So, this 40% fund which is coming to India should go for climate adaptation. That’s the purpose.
How do you see India’s role in today’s food security scenario?
India is going to lead the G20… 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 Indians are putting out an agenda about climate justice, which really pays off. … climate change is happening now and developing countries are paying the price… So, I can understand that they are pushing the agenda like this.