India-Africa farm ties can feed entire world: Unido chief

April 10th, 2008 - 7:04 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) India-Africa ties in agriculture have the potential to feed the entire world, especially in the current global context of rising prices and stagnant productivity, the chief of a UN agency has said. “A collaboration between India and African countries can create granaries for the entire world,” said Kandeh K. Yumkella, director-general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido).

“This is, indeed, possible. India has the capacity and technology and Africa has land and labour,” Yumkella, who is here for an international conference on agro industries and its role in development and poverty reduction, told IANS.

According to the Unido chief, the Indian green revolution of the 1970s and 1980s had demonstrated how technology can boost productivity could push production of food grain in a short period of time.

“But the huge advances brought about by the continuing green revolution must be accompanied by similar advances in processing efficiency, reductions in post-harvest losses and improvements in quality levels of products.”

Accordingly, he said, the importance of agro-industry in terms of post-harvest activities of processing and preserving agricultural products for intermediate or final consumption should be self-evident.

“If half the harvest is spoilt in transit, the result will be gross inefficiency in processing and low-quality products - a socio-economic and business failure,” he added.

Speaking about the current scenario where world was facing food shortages and rising commodity prices, Yumkella said the reason for this was a sharp decline in global food stocks that were the lowest since 1980.

“One way to go is to definitely reduce post-harvest losses,” said the former trade minister of Sierra Leone and a PhD in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois.

Yumkella, who is also chairperson of UN-Energy, an initiative of the agency to address energy security, said the Unido was proposing to jointly host with the Indian government a global conference to address all concerns in the area.

“This conference will see the participation of as many as 18 UN organisations. It is proposed either next year or in 2010 and will look at issues like energy efficiency, conservation, new technology, green energy,” he said.

The Unido chief also maintained that there was also the need for econometric modelling to examine the relationship between food and fuels to find out how much and how adversely the land use patterns were changing.

“There is a close link between ‘energy poverty and ‘income poverty’. We need to find that out.”

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