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July 16, 2024
The Hona News

GEF 7 inception workshop | FAO in India | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (MoA&FW) and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is designing the ‘Transforming Rice-Wheat Food Systems in India’ project. The project is part of the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Impact Program on Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration (FOLUR), under its seventh funding cycle.

The project will be implemented in Punjab, Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. As the world’s second largest producer of rice and wheat, India makes significant contributions to the global food supply. The states of Punjab and Haryana account for 11.3 percent of the national production of wheat and are the second and third largest producers, respectively. Punjab is also the third largest rice producing state in the country. Chhattisgarh and Odisha too are major rice producing states. In addition, they account for globally significant agro-biodiversity. However, intensive mono-cropping of rice and wheat in both Punjab and Haryana have, over the decades, led to land degradation, aquifer depletion, chemical contamination of groundwater, as well as Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and air pollution from crop residue burning. In Chhattisgarh and Odisha, unsustainable agriculture practices that are unsuited to local agro-ecological conditions are accelerating land and aquifer degradation, eroding globally important agro-biodiversity and accelerating loss of globally important wildlife habitats (e.g. forest). The selection of the project states was done based on the above considerations.

The project aims to accelerate India’s effort to evolve a new model of sustainable agriculture that goes beyond current resource intensive rice-wheat cropping systems.

The National Project Inception Workshop was held on March 06, 2020 under the Chairmanship of Dr S.K. Malhotra, Agriculture Commissioner. Officials and representatives from MoEF&CC, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare (DAC&FW), CGIAR institutes, private sector consortia, farmer representations and the State Governments of Haryana, Punjab, Odisha and Chhattisgarh participated in the workshop.

Dr S.K. Malhotra, Agriculture Commissioner, highlighted the significant contributions of rice-wheat systems to the food basket of the nation and the vital role of these crops in attaining food security. However, prolonged cultivation of these resource intensive crops has degraded the environment significantly. An integrated and sustainable farming system with a range of viable crop combinations is required to enable better utilization of resources.

The FAO India team presented an overview of the project at the workshop. This was followed by a discussion on various elements of the project. The meeting concluded with an endorsement of the project by all the stakeholders and MoA&FW reaffirming its commitment to steer the project design within the agreed timeframe.

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