From the Desk of Secretary General
imageThe role of technology in advancing 'rural and agricultural development' has always been a matter of intense debate among policy makers, planners, implementers, academicians, etc. On the one side, technology has been touted as facilitating intensive agricultural practices to augment food production as well as properly organise warehouses and distribution network. On the other, technology is considered responsible for creating unemployment or shifting farm labour, by introducing new labour savings interventions notably in the developing countries. In spite of this polemic, farm technological interventions have been progressively rising in view of the fact that anticipated increase in population (9 billion by 2050) could be fed with application of new technologies. For example, research 8: development in biotechnology is responsible for producing new strains of crops resistant to disease and drought. Similarly, development of heat resistance crops varieties will mitigate the impact of climate change. Future advances in developing crop varieties resistant to pests will stimulate further reduction in toxic chemicals used as pesticides. Genetic engineering is another notable area that holds promising potential not only in the agriculture, but also in aquaculture where it can lead to increased production of marine and freshwater seafood. Thus, technology, when utilised optimally, could transform conventional production systems by paving the way for alleviation of hunger and enhancement in food security and nutrition that is goal number 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015.

It may not be out of context to mention here that developing new sustainable technologies requires additional financial resources – a core component in committing SGDs. In this regard, an International Conference, third in series, on ‘Financing for Development’, was held in Ethiopia in 2015 that, among others, advocated the need for convening inter-agency Task Force to address implementation gap in resource mobilization and allocation.

It is with this background in view that African-Asian Rural Development Organization or AARDO has been making its modest efforts to carry forward the mandate of SDGs through a variety of ways including training progammes, workshops/seminars, study visits, etc., in African-Asian region. In fact, sustainable agriculture and rural development of its member countries is the Goal of AARDO as enshrined in its Constitution. An international training programme on “Land Policy for Sustainable Rural Development” in R O China (Taiwan) and “Sustainable Agricultural Strategies for Rural Development” in India have regularly been organised. Last year, AARDO participated in the 2nd World Irrigation Forum in Thailand and presented a Keynote Paper on “AARDO’s Role in Sustainable Use of Water Resources and Management” and is now planning to bring out a thematic issue of its research journal on “Agriculture Water Management for Sustainable Rural Development” in 2017. Similarly, a review of the AARDO-KOICA seminar on “Sustainable Agricultural Development (SAD)” was held in India in October 2016 and many more HRD activities, having direct or indirect bearing on SGDs, are in the making.

The just concluded International Conference on Technological Advancement for Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (TASARD) that AARDO organised in collaboration with Society for Plant Research (SPR) in New Delhi, India is a further testimony of AARDO’s unflinching commitment to implement the agenda of SDGs. The Conference was attended by more than 300 eminent scientists, policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholders from Africa, Asia, Europe and USA along with twenty eight (28) high level delegates from fifteen (15) AARDO member countries. It succeeded in achieving its objective in the sense that it brought together experts from diverse field into a single platform so that they could share their rich experiences and brainstorm on scientific and technological solutions to achieve sustainable agriculture and rural development. In fact, the Conference discussed the theme threadbare through various technical sessions including four brainstorming sessions by focussing, among others, on technological advancement in agricultural production system, plant microbe interaction, plant science research for climate and natural disaster management, technologies adaptation by rural community, especially women and farmers and role of ICT in agriculture and rural development. It is hoped that this Conference will further crystallise the issues involved and stimulate global stakeholders to set the road map in right perspective in order to achieve for ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.