IFAD empowers women and fights rural poverty in India

India - Convergence of Agricultural Interventions in Maharashtra’s Distressed Districts Project (CAIM) Photo credit: IFAD/Susan Beccio

 NEW DELHI – Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) was due to meet government leaders in India this week “to strengthen joint efforts to boost farmers’ incomes and build sustainable food systems and review project activities that have already empowered more than one million rural women,” said IFAD in a press release.

 The IFAD visit began Sunday in Maharashtra, where Houngbo met women who have expanded their agricultural businesses through the Tejaswini Rural Women’s Empowerment Programme, which is funded by IFAD.

 Formally completed in 2018, the programme implemented by the Maharashtra Women Development Corporation (MAVIM) continues to support women’s development by strengthening self-help groups and providing access to financial services, agricultural technical training, literacy training and business planning and development.

 To date it has helped over a million rural women and succeeded in supporting self-help groups to mobilize an additional 300 million US dollars in financing through Community Managed Resource Centres.

 Since 1979, IFAD has directly invested $1.28 billion in 30 rural development projects in India, benefitting an estimated 5.2 million households.

 India is aiming to double farmer’s incomes by 2022.  Eradicating rural poverty in India has proven difficult, with rural communities struggling to raise household incomes, improve nutrition and deal with climate change.

 “As one of the countries hardest hit by climate change, the partnership between India and IFAD and its shared work to build the resilience of rural communities has become increasingly important. IFAD maintains its commitment to India to support their efforts in fortifying smallholder food production to be economically, socially and environmentally viable,” said Houngbo.

 IFAD is currently funding seven projects in India that support the government’s efforts to increase farmers’ incomes and their access to markets and financial services, and to promote sustainable, climate-change resilient agricultural development which also improves household nutrition. 

 Amongst the people Houngbo will meet in India is Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance, in order to strengthen IFAD’s partnership with the Government of India, as well as Narender Singh Tomar, Minister of Rural Development and Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Giriraj Singh, Minister of Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries and Rajeev Kumar, Vice Chairman of policy think tank Niti Ayog.