ESCAP-APCAEM Heeds Call for Continued Economic Development and Poverty Reduction at the Global Agro-Industries Forum in New Delhi

The Government of India hosted the first global conference on agro-industries, in New Delhi from 8-11 April 2008. The Global Agro-Industries Forum (GAIF) promoted the importance of agro-industries for economic development and poverty reduction. Around 500 senior representatives from agro-industry, governments, technical and financing institutions, civil society and UN agencies discussed the potential of agro-industries and the challenges they face. The Forum also encouraged dialogue between the private and public sector in order to foster partnerships for developing competitive agro-industries.

The Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh officially inaugurated the Forum, together with Jacques Diouf, Director General of FAO, Kandeh K. Yumkella, Director General of UNIDO and Lennart Bage, President of IFAD.

Dr. Manmohan Singh stressed that “we need a Second Green Revolution, new technologies, new organizational structures, new institutional responses and, above all, a new compact between farmers, technologists, scientists, administrators, businessmen, bankers and consumers.”

The PM further added that the “global community and global agencies must fashion a collective response that leads to a quantum leap in agricultural productivity and output so that the spectre of food shortages is banished from the horizon once again.”

Heeding the PM’s call, Mr. Joong-Wan Cho, Head of ESCAP-APCAEM, consulted with the focal point institution (ICAR) of the Government of India on future programme activities, including the upcoming World Congress on Conservation Agriculture “Conservation Agriculture (tentative 4-7 Feb 2009): Innovations for Improving Efficiency, Equity and the Environment”. It was requested at the Forum that ESCAP-APCAEM play a substantive part in the Congress representing the Asia-Pacific regional perspective.

Increasing the market opportunities particularly for small-scale producers in rural areas, by improving their production, processing and marketing capabilities, was also one of the main issues of the Forum. Addressing the aforementioned issue, Mr. Cho facilitated the Regional Strategy Workshop for the Asia and Pacific region, noting the region’s diverse agricultural needs. With the largest population by far of any region on our Earth, the Asia-Pacific faces the greatest challenges in maintaining food security. The region needs not only to increase its agricultural activity and output, but do it in a way that does not add additional environmental pressure on already over-stressed lands or diminish the quality of life of farmers.

Agro-processing can increase farmers' incomes and provide off-farm employment opportunities. However agricultural modernization and rural development must also be environmentally sustainable, along with rural industrialization. Past technologies have increased yields but at a great loss to agriculturally viable soils and that have been greatly depleted. The “Second Green Revolution” will need to emphasize the term “Green” if the region is going to continue to succeed in economic development and poverty reduction. Enhancing environmentally sustainable agricultural and food production, applying green and modern agro-technology for the well being of producers and consumers of agricultural/food products must be factored as part of the future fortunes for economic growth in our vast and diverse region.

Also during the four day Global Agro-Industries Forum, Mr. Cho networked with key stakeholders on possible future collaboration and collected good practices and research to share with our regional stakeholders.