International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD):

  • The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an international financial institution and a specialized agency of the United Nations.
  • It was established in 1977 and is one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference. It is headquartered in Rome,Italy.
  • It has 177 member countries.
  • It invests in rural people by empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience.
  • Since 1978, IFAD has provided US$18.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 464 million people.
  • It works with marginalized and vulnerable groups such as farmers with small holdings, foresters, pastoralists, fishermen and small scale entrepreneurs by giving them disaster preparedness, access to weather information, technology transfer and social learning.
  • IFAD brings out the Rural Development Report every year.

IFAD Objectives

The objectives of the IFAD are three-fold:

  1. To increase the productive capacity of poor people.
  2. To increase benefits for them from market participation.
  3. To strengthen the environmental sustainability & climate resilience of their economic activities.

IFAD and India

IFAD has been in India since 1979. In India, the organization focusses on enhancing the access of poor people in rural areas to technological advancement in agriculture, financial services, natural resources and value chains.

  • It also works in sharing knowledge & learnings on nutrition security and poverty alleviation.
  • The focus in India is on tribal communities, smallholder farmers, women, scheduled castes, etc.
  • IFAD is located in New Delhi.

IFAD Focus areas in India:

  • Rural poverty
  • Agriculture
  • Tribal development
  • Women’s empowerment
  • The nodal agency for the IFAD in India is the Department of Economic Affairs, Finance Ministry, GOI.

Features of Indian Agriculture

  • Subsistence agriculture: The type of agriculture in India is mostly Subsistence agriculture. In Subsistence agriculture the agricultural produce is for self-consumption only, there is no surplus production to sell in the market.
  • Commercial agriculture: Large-scale commercial agriculture is also practiced in India, such as tea plantation in Assam, coffee in Karnataka, coconut in Kerala, etc. Commercial Agriculture is the agricultural practice where large agricultural produce is sold in the market by the firms for making profits.
    • Since the land resource in India is limited the pressure of increasing population on agriculture is increasing day by day.

  • Mechanization: After Green Revolution, there has been an increasing trend in the use of machines in farm operations. This has led to the mechanization of Indian agriculture. Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, River valleys of Andhra, and Tamil Nadu are major agriculturally mechanized areas in India.
  • Monsoon dependent: Due to lack of irrigation facilities Two-third of Indian agriculture is dependent on monsoon rains.
  • Variety of crops: Due to the presence of different types of topography, diverse soil (like alluvial, red, black cotton soil, etc), and different types of climate, India is blessed with the production of different varieties of crops in different regions. For eg., hilly areas are suitable for tea cultivation, plains for rice cultivation
  • Predominance of food crops: In order to feed a large population and predominance of subsistence agriculture, food crops are mainly grown in order to keep with the food security demands of the huge Indian population.
  • There are basically three cropping seasonal patterns in India namely Kharif, Rabi, and Zaid.

Challenges of Indian Agriculture

  • Instability: Agriculture in India is largely depends on monsoon. As a result, production of food-grains fluctuates year after year. A year of abun­dant output of cereals is often followed by a year of acute shortage.
  • Cropping Pattern: The crops that are grown in India are divided into two broad catego­ries: food crops and non-food crops. While the former comprise food-grains, sugarcane and other beverages, the latter includes different kinds of fibres and oilseeds.
  • Land Ownership: Although the owner­ship of agricultural land in India is fairly widely distributed, there is some degree of concentration of land holding. Inequality in land distribution is also due to the fact that there are frequent changes in land ownership in India. It is believed that large parcels of land in India are owned by a- relatively small section of the rich farmers, landlords and money-lenders, while the vast majority of farmers own very little amount of land, or no land at all.
  • Sub-Division and Fragmentation of Hold­ing: Due to the growth of population and break­down of the joint family system, there has occurred continuous sub-division of agricultural land into smaller and smaller plots. At times small farmers are forced to sell a portion of their land to repay their debt. This creates further sub-division of land.
  • Land Tenure: The land tenure system of India is also far from perfect. In the pre-independence period, most tenants suffered from insecurity of tenancy. They could be evicted any time. How­ever, various steps have been taken after Independ­ence to provide security of tenancy.
  • Conditions of Agricultural Labourers: The conditions of most agricultural labourers in India are far from satisfactory. There is also the problem of surplus labour or disguised unemploy­ment. This pushes the wage rates below the sub­sistence levels.
  • Manures, Fertilizers and Biocides: Indian soils have been used for growing crops over thousands of years without caring much for replenishing. This has led to depletion and exhaustion of soils resulting in their low productivity. The average yields of almost all the crops are among t e lowest in the world. This is a serious problem which can be solved by using more manures and fertilizers.
  • Irrigation: Although India is the second largest irrigated country of the world after China, only one-third of the cropped area is under irrigation. Irrigation is the most important agricultural input in a tropical monsoon country like India where rainfall is uncertain, unreliable and erratic India cannot achieve sustained progress in agriculture unless and until more than half of the cropped area is brought under assured irrigation.
  • Lack of mechanisation: In spite of the large-scale mechanisation of agriculture in some parts of the country, most of the agricultural operations in larger parts are carried on by human hand using simple and conventional tools and implements like wooden plough, sickle, etc. Little or no use of machines is made in ploughing, sowing, irrigating, thinning and pruning, weeding, harvesting threshing and transporting the crops.
  • Agricultural Marketing: Agricultural marketing still continues to be in a bad shape in rural India. In the absence of sound marketing facilities, the farmers have to depend upon local traders and middlemen for the disposal of their farm produce which is sold at throw-away price.
  • Inadequate transport: One of the main handicaps with Indian agriculture is the lack of cheap and efficient means of transportation. Even at present there are lakhs of villages which are not well connected with main roads or with market centres.

Source: IFAD

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