The new millennium has seen a spectacular improvement in the fortunes of some South Asian countries, particularly India. Although GDP growth rates are slowing from India’s peak of nearly 10% in 2006, most South Asian countries managed nearly 7% in 2007. Yet headline development success stories mask the worsening outlook for poor people. Agriculture growth, critical for poverty reduction, stagnated. Progress on poverty reduction was consequently disappointing and the decline in poverty levels of less than 1% a year was only possible due to low food prices in the early years of the new millennium. The global food price crisis now threatens to undermine even this meagre progress. But this isn’t a one-off crisis. Uncertainty and shocks are the emerging features of the global economic system of the 21st century. Unless South Asian agriculture can continuously innovate and stay onestep ahead, progress in reducing poverty might not only be slowed; it could be reversed

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