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World will make it in terms of SDGs only if India can: Josefina Stubbs, IFAD

May 23, 2016

Josefina Stubbs, Associate Vice-President and Chief Development Strategist, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in an interview to OneWorld South Asia, said that SDGs can be truly attained by combining economic activities along with environmental protection. Excerpts from the interview:

Josefina Stubbs

OneWorld South Asia: What kind of knowledge management activities are carried out by IFAD in terms of the work done by the organisation in the development sector including India?

Josefina Stubbs: IFAD has experiences in 192 countries of the world in the rural sector. Our knowledge activities are fundamental for us to understand the patterns of problems and the innovative solutions that people are bringing to certain problems.

We have seen different models with similar resource base in South East Asia, Latin America and Africa. So, our purpose is to learn from various experiences so that we can form policies, like the self help groups in India engaged in the task of empowering women.

We look at what we have learned from all those practices so that the knowledge can be transferred to the smallest of the farmers.

In Asia we have the ‘Learning Roots’ an initiative that brings farmers together to learn from each other. We do believe that apart from the processing of knowledge at higher levels that we do to inform policies, farmers also have a lot of knowledge. We need to open the opportunities for the farmers to exchange their knowledge.

OneWorld South Asia: How is knowledge management crucial for sustainable farming in the Indian context?

Stubbs: The world is looking for innovations and India is also looking for innovations. We are inclined to work with India to see how we can help the country to increase the availability of food, and at the same time empower the farmers especially the smaller farmers by increasing their income.

OWSA: Do you believe that knowledge management is crucial for adopting a sustainable approach for small holder farming and for policies makers?

Stubbs: Let me say that knowledge is also what farmers are doing, well, for centuries. We appreciate more and more, some of the varieties of crops that farmers have been maintaining for many years and some of which have proven to be resistant to climate change. But knowledge is also bringing new varieties that can make crops more resistant in view of the changes in climate.

This is to say that first we acknowledge, recognize, and value the knowledge in the hands of farmers. For instance, for many years farmers have been building terraces to do better water management, to control erosion. Some of those techniques have to be rescued and expanded.

We believe that a lot of knowledge has to come from agricultural research. It has to come also from technological advances that countries like India have in a phenomenal way. Like not only how to use technology to transfer that knowledge and to make it available to small farmers but also how to transfer that knowledge.

There is a need to combine the old tradition, when it works, with new tradition and the new knowledge so that we can enhance the lives of millions of poor.

OWSA: How can the implementation of SDGs benefit from IFAD experience?

Stubbs: First of all by bringing communities into development work. Bringing communities, organising communities, supporting communities, empowering men, women and young people in the communities is the foundation for achieving SDGs.

In North East India, farmers are combining sustainable natural resource management with economic activities. It was wonderful to see how farmers are maintaining the fish varieties of the community by creating sanctuaries in some streams of the river that not only increases fish production but also helps in environment conservation. This helps the women in making money by selling fish and also improves the nutritional intake of the community.

The SDGs can be realized combining economic activities with environmental protection with capacity building and then trying to scale-up and reaching as many people as you can.

OWSA: How do you think knowledge from Community Radio Stations make a difference?

Stubbs: The phenomenal developments in the areas of Information Technology should continue to be a platform for spreading knowledge, the knowledge that comes from the community.

Community IT based platforms that can be accessed by community leaders are spreading people’s views, people’s experiences, people’s recommendations about works and what doesn’t work.

So you see it’s when the bottom up and top down can meet so that policies can bring more people into them but also the policies can get better because they have people giving them suggestions as to how to improve them.

There is an enormous potential in this country. If India can make it, the world will make it in terms of the SDGs, aspiring technologies and in terms of finding innovations that can be scale up.

India being a global partner can show the way to many of the countries that are looking for innovations to for one and forever not have extreme poverty and hungry people.

Transcription: Jyoti Kanyal

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