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UN food agency Pushes ‘Smart Crops’ as Rice Alternative to defeat Hunger in Asia

Soaring rice prices, slowing economic expansion and poorer growth in agricultural productivity have been blamed for the slowdown in efforts to tackle hunger

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FILE - A worker carries a bale of dry millet at a field on the outskirts of the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, Nov. 17, 2011. VOA
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Asia needs to make extra efforts to defeat hunger after progress has slowed in the last five years, including promoting so-called “smart crops” as an alternative to rice, the head of the U.N. food agency in the region said.

Kundhavi Kadiresan, representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Asia, said the region needs to focus on reaching the most marginalized people, such as the very poor or those living in mountainous areas.

The Asia-Pacific region halved the number of hungry people from 1990 to 2015 but the rate of progress slowed in many countries – such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Cambodia – in the last five years, according to a December FAO report.

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“The last mile is always difficult.. so extra efforts, extra resources and more targeted interventions are needed,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of a business forum on food security in Jakarta on Tuesday.

She said government and businesses needed to develop policies to help make food more affordable, while changing Asians’ diets that rely heavily on rice.

“We have focused so much on rice that we haven’t really looked at some of those crops like millets, sorghum and beans,” she said.

A campaign is underway to promote these alternatives as “smart crops” to make them more attractive, Kadiresan said.

“We are calling them smart crops to get people not to think about them as poor people’s food but smart people’s food,” she said, adding that they are not only nutritious but also more adaptable to climate change.

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Soaring rice prices, slowing economic expansion and poorer growth in agricultural productivity have been blamed for the slowdown in efforts to tackle hunger.

More than 60 percent of the world’s hungry are in Asia-Pacific, while nearly one out of three children in the region suffers from stunting, according to the FAO.

Achieving zero hunger by 2030 is one of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals adopted by member states in 2015. (VOA)

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Iran President Gearing Up For His India Visit To Discuss Trade And Policies

The visit will be used to discuss trade and policies between the two countries

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will discuss trade policies and other issues during this visit of his. http://www.telegraph.co.uk
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will discuss trade policies and other issues during this visit of his. http://www.telegraph.co.uk
  • Iran president Hassan Rouhanito come on a three-day visit to India
  • The visit will be used to discuss trade and policies between the two countries
  • Business traders of both the countries will do a meeting soon too

Iran President Hassan Rouhani will come on a three-day visit to India starting Thursday at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the External Affairs Ministry announced on Wednesday.

Modi and Rouhani will hold a bilateral meeting here on Saturday, during the course of which both sides would review the progress achieved in bilateral relations and also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest, according to a ministry statement.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to visit India soon. Photo Credit: observer.com
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to visit India soon. Photo Credit: observer.com

Rouhani will also call on President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday.

According to Iranian news agency Irna, Rouhani will first arrive in Hyderabad on Thursday where he will meet the city’s Muslim Ulemas. He will also meet Iranian nationals, including students, residing in India.

Citing the Iran President’s deputy chief of staff for communications and information Parviz Esmaeili, Irna said following the delegation-level talks on Saturday, both sides will sign a number of agreements.

Also Read: Iran Accuses CIA for spreading ‘Fake News’ about Tehran’s support to Al Qaeda

Business leaders of both sectors are also scheduled to hold a joint meeting to review cooperation opportunities and capacities, according to Esmaeili.

This will be Rouhani’s first visit to India after he assumed office in 2013.

It comes after Modi’s visit to Tehran in 2016 during which a trilateral agreement on transit and transport was signed between India, Iran and Afghanistan.

The first phase of the port was inaugurated by President Rouhani in December last year, a little over a month after the first consignment of wheat from India to Afghanistan was sent via this facility.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has already talked to the Indian
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has already talked to the Indian
President Ram Nath Kovind. Wikimedia Commons

The port opens a new strategic transit route between Iran, India, Afghanistan and other Central Asian nations bypassing Pakistan.

India-Iran bilateral trade stood at $12.89 billion in 2016-17, according to figures provided by the External Affairs Ministry. IANS