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07 February 2020

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Governors,
Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am extremely delighted to represent India at this 40th Session of the Governing Council of IFAD. At the outset, I would like to thank President Kanayo for his visionary leadership, and the unmatched enthusiasm with which he has steered this organization over the last eight years. We wish him all the best.

India has always valued the contributions of IFAD towards elimination of rural poverty and hunger across the world. As a United Nations specialized agency and an International Financial Institution, IFAD is uniquely placed in achieving a few of the Sustainable Development Goals. IFAD’s Strategic Framework 2016-2025 provides a clear roadmap for an inclusive growth and sustainable rural transformation.

Having said that, the path to a world free of poverty and hunger involves a difficult journey. Access to formal finance still remains a major bottleneck for the rural poor. The smallholders do not have access to markets, nor do they have adequate competitive advantages for their products. Agriculture remains the mainstay of a majority of populations in the rural areas across the developing world, and yet enhancing productive capacity of smallholder farmers is a daunting task. These challenges enjoin upon IFAD to reorient itself, broaden its resource base and find innovative solutions to the problem of food security and sustainable growth. We must also realize that IFAD alone cannot overcome the challenges of hunger and poverty. It must increasingly collaborate with not only the Rome-based Agencies, but also with other multilateral and bilateral players on the developmental landscape. It must aspire to become a knowledge partner, and take along the governments, civil society and private sector institutions in this endeavor.

India’s national priorities are well aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. The Government of India has accorded the highest importance to the need for an inclusive growth and rural transformation. The Prime Minister of India has already set the objective of doubling the farmers’ income by the year 2022. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has been further strengthened with enhanced focus on creation of durable assets and diversification of livelihood opportunities. The Government of India has also introduced a mission to take 10 million households out of poverty and make 50,000 Gram Panchayats, i.e., the local self-governments, poverty free by the year 2019. Rural connectivity is the highest priority of the Government. We also aim to achieve 100% rural electrification by the year 2018.

A new concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is engaging our policy makers at this juncture, which seeks to guarantee to every individual a minimum income and thus providing necessary material foundation for a life with access to basic goods and a life of dignity.

India is confident that IFAD would continue to play an important role in the global goal of eliminating poverty and hunger, and stands committed to extend all possible support.

Thank You.