In an op-ed in Nature India, Tata-Cornell Institute Director Prabhu Pingali asserts that the coronavirus pandemic presents an opportunity for India to reboot its agricultural policy in favor of nutritious, sustainable crops. The piece was co-authored by Arabinda K. Padhee, country director for India at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics.
“Agriculture, food, and nutrition have come into sharp focus as a fallout of the COVID-19 crisis in India,” Pingali and Padhee write. “Though the pandemic may not have caused serious disruption to the food system, thanks to good harvests in the previous crop seasons and sufficient buffers of rice and wheat, this is as good a time as any to reboot the country’s agricultural policy, already facing the traditional twin challenges of climate change and malnutrition.”
Pingali and Padhee argue that Indian agricultural policy should be reoriented to encourage the production of a more diverse set of crops. They call for the systematic aggregation of smallholder farmers, strengthening of value chains, and consumer-focused programs to promote the consumption of nutritious foods.
Read the full op-ed on NatureAsia.com: “Lessons from a pandemic to repurpose India’s agricultural policy”