South Asia

Source: 1997 Ruth Meinzen-Dick/IFPRI
People bringing in the rice harvest in Tamil Nadu, India

Office: New Delhi, India

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IFPRI has long worked in South Asia, undertaking major projects on trade, markets, employment, nutrition, water, the adoption of agricultural technology, and other vital issues. Although the region has reduced the percentage of its population that is food and nutrition insecure, it remains home to the majority of the world's hungry and malnourished people.

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South Asia Initiative

To address this challenge and take advantage of new opportunities, IFPRI launched the South Asia Initiative (SAI) in 2002, opened an office in New Delhi in 2005, and appointed a director in Asia in 2006. The SAI pursues a three-pronged approach: it works with the Policy Analysis and Advisory Network for South Asia, a network of agricultural policymakers, advisors, and analysts, to promote effective policy dialogue; it facilitates collaborative research on key policy issues; and it works to strengthen local capacity.

Trade Liberalization and Food Security

Though until recently South Asian countries had policies that were protectionist at the border and interventionist within, many have implemented economic reforms to varying degrees. IFPRI's Markets, Trade, and Institutions Division (MTID) is analyzing the impact of the reforms on net food-importing versus net food-exporting countries, foodgrain marketing, and the integration of markets, as well as the role of safety nets in protecting the poorest peoples as reform unfolds.

Food Security, Nutrition, and Health

Changes in the global environment, including food and fuel price crises, the global financial crisis, and climate-related changes, have altered consumption patterns over the past few decades in both urban and rural areas. But while the poor are now more likely to meet their calorie needs than before, the overall quality of their diet has not improved. Poor diet quality, related illnesses, and nutrition deficits have become the most pressing nutritional concerns among the poor today.

In south Asia IFPRI is working to address these challenges through a number of projects, including:

Smallholder Farmers and Markets

Through the study of Rural Business Hubs (RBHs), IFPRI is learning how the private sector can help increase incomes, linkages to markets, and productivity of small, poor farmers by eliminating the rural services vacuum. Promotion of RBHs will be made possible by IFPRI’s work to build capacity within the private sector and partnerships with university research organizations. IFPRI’s Markets, Trade and Institutions Division (MTID) works to understand the effects that processing modernization has had on the retail competitiveness of small farmers while also identifying policies that can expand their participation in supply chains for high-value commodities.

Growth, Poverty, and Climate Change

Climate change will affect South Asian economies in various ways and is likely to have strong adverse effects on food production and the poor. At the same time, rapid economic expansion has put pressure on the region’s natural resources, especially water and land. In India, IFPRI researchers are examining climate-smart interventions and the economic feasibility of using them for major crops like rice, wheat, and maize. In the eastern Indo-Gangetic Plain IFPRI is studying local institutional and policy factors that foster or impede climate resilient farming systems with emphasis in Nepal, Bihar, and West Bengal in India, and north western Bangladesh.

The Dragon and the Elephant

China and India together account for 40 percent of the world's population. Both have implemented a series of economic reforms in the past two and a half decades: China initiated this process at the end of the 1970s with reforms in the agriculture sector and in rural areas, while India began in the early 1990s by liberalizing and reforming the manufacturing sector. The different reform paths have led to different growth rates and, more importantly, to different rates of poverty reduction. They also have fundamentally different implications for growth and poverty reduction in the future. IFPRI researchers have been examining key aspects of these reforms and their relationship to outcomes, and have hosted three international "Dragon and Elephant" conferences on China and India, most recently in July 2006.

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