AP: ICRISAT pleads rescue plan for farmers

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Hyderabad, Oct 24: ICRISAT Director General William Dar today said apart from banks, insurance companies and financial institutions requiring bailout packages to prevent them from going bankrupt, poor farmers across the world, especially those working in the drylands of developing countries, too need policy of institutional and financial bailout.

In a statement here, he said even as Governments of the developed and developing countries were bailing out banks, insurance companies and financial institutions to prevent them from going bankrupt and starting a domino effect, they continued to neglect the poor farmers in their countries, an action that could have short and long-term adverse impacts on national and global economies.

''As of July 2008, the world population is estimated to be 6.6 billion. A staggering one billion of these are utterly poor people, most of whom live in the dryland areas of the world. When seen in conjunction with the present day food crisis and unabated rise in food prices that are affecting the common man, who, more than the poor, has a right to substantial assistance from governments?,'' he asked.

Mr Dar said having worked for decades with poor farmers in the drylands of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, ICRISAT believed that it was essential to strengthen the resource base and income of the poor farmers. ''These farmers are the backbone of any economy, and if their conditions are not improved, the economy will suffer adverse impact that will be difficult to repair'', he said.

Stating that in addition to financial support, there was need for supportive policies, improved infrastructure, improved access to better quality seeds, irrigation support and support for establishing more effective institutions, Dr Dar said poor farmers, especially those in the drylands, were suffering from the lack of governmental support.

Cutting-edge agricultural research can achieve substantial improvement in crop yields and farmers' income, he said, adding agricultural research should be supported better through government funds.

''It is worth mentioning that less than ten per cent of public spending in developing countries goes to agriculture even though this sector commonly accounts for about half of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And less than one per cent of public spending goes to agricultural research, that is vital to the innovation that opens up new livelihood opportunities,'' he said.

He said for every $ one invested in international agricultural research, $ nine worth of additional food is produced in developing countries where it is needed most.


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