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Market openness, farming changes can battle hunger: experts


New Delhi: A combination of various initiatives such as opening up markets, taking to new farming practices and futuristic policies can help fight hunger and poverty the world is battling today, experts said at a conference here Tuesday.

Discussing the book, “Millions fed: Proven successes in agricultural development”, in which 20 case studies have been presented on how hunger has been battled around the globe through combined efforts, food research experts stressed that serious issues like malnutrition can be tackled by using innovative farming.

The book, launched last year, was commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has been pulled together by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Researcher David J. Spielman of the IFPRI said: “Learning from past achievements in agricultural development is now more important than ever. These successes show how to put agriculture to work to fight hunger and malnutrition. Until now there were relatively very few evidence on the kind of interventions needed to tackle this challenge.”

Among the case studies given in the book is the rise in the yield of crops in arid areas of states like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu because of long-term investments in developing modern seed varieties and putting them within the reach of the farmer.

“The national average yields of sorghum and pearl millet – the principal sources of energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals for millions of the poorest people in the country’s dry regions – have increased by as much as 85 percent over the past four decades and this because of the efforts in these states,” he added.

Zero-tillage cultivation by wheat farmers in Haryana is another success story.

Between 1978 and 1984, China returned more than 95 percent of the nation’s total farmland to some 160 million farm households. These reforms directly contributed to an increase in rural incomes by 137 percent, a reduction in rural poverty by 22 percent, and a 34 percent rise in grain production, the book said.

“Each of these case studies show on what worked, why and how,” he added.