New Delhi:9/10/23:The President of India, Smt Droupadi Murmu inaugurated an International Research Conference on ‘From research to impact: Towards Just and Resilient Agri-Food Systems’, being hosted by CGIAR GENDER Impact Platform and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), in New Delhi, today (October 9, 2023).
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that a society, irrespective of its prosperity, will cease to exist if it is devoid of justice. She added that when it comes to gender justice, agriculture, known as the oldest science, is found wanting even in the modern times. She said that Covid-19 pandemic has also brought to the fore a strong correlation between the agri-food systems and structural inequality in society. She added that as compared to men, women suffered more job loss in the pandemic years that triggered migration.
The President said that at the global level, we have seen that women have been kept outside the agri-food systems for long. She added that they form the bulk of the lowest pyramid of the agriculture structure, but they are denied the opportunity to climb the ladder to assume the role of decision-makers. She said that across the world, they are held back and stopped by discriminatory social norms and barriers to knowledge, ownership, assets, resources, and social networks. She further said that their contribution is not recognized, their role is marginalised and their agency is denied in the whole chain of the agri-food systems and this story needs to change. She stated that in India, we have been witnessing those changes with women getting more empowered through legislative and governmental interventions.
The President said that modern women are not “abla” but “sabla”, that is, not helpless but powerful. She added that we need not only women’s development but women-led development. She said that making our agri-food systems more just, inclusive and equitable is not only desirable but also crucial for the well-being of the planet and humankind.
The President said that climate change is an existential threat and we need to act now, act fast, and act swiftly. She said that climate change, global warming, melting ice caps, and extinction of species are disrupting food production and the agri-food cycle is also not sustainable and eco-friendly. It is hindering climate action and causing an increase in greenhouse gases. She highlighted that our agri-food systems are stuck in a vicious cycle and we need to break this “chakravyuh”. She also emphasised the need to increase biodiversity and restore ecosystems so that food and nutritional security can be assured through the agri-food systems along with a more prosperous and equitable future for all.
The President said that for ecologically sustainable, ethically desirable, economically affordable, and socially justifiable production, we need research that can enable conditions to reach these goals. She added that we need a systematic understanding of how to transform the agri-food systems. She said that the agri-food systems should be resilient and agile so that they can withstand shocks and disruptions to make nutritious and healthy diets more accessible, available, and affordable for all and they should be more just, equitable, and sustainable. She expressed confidence that during the next four days, the conference will consider all the issues and will pave the way for positive transformation of the agri-food systems.