Dr. Rita Sharma

Dr. Rita Sharma is the former Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Rural Development. She has served as Land Resources Commissioner and Extension Commissioner in the Ministry of Agriculture. She was Secretary to the National Advisory Council (NAC), in the Prime Minister’s Office. She is a retired member of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

In her various assignments in the Central Government and in the State Government of Uttar Pradesh, she has been responsible for the delivery of government programmes and projects for poverty alleviation, employment generation, natural resource management, infrastructure development and risk mitigation in rural areas. Her areas of specialization included development policy and planning, food and livelihoods security, climate smart agriculture, empowerment of farm women and skill development of rural youth. As Secretary, Rural Development she oversaw the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (MGNREGA), the world’s largest public works programme providing social security and the right to work to rural households. As Secretary of NAC she was involved in the drafting of the National Food Security Bill, formulating the National Agroforestry Policy, incentivising Famer Producer Organizations, supporting innovative agricultural extension systems and several others.

She served as Commissioner to the International Commission of Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change in 2012. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Rice Research Institute, Los Banos and the World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi. Currently, she is Board Chair of Action for Social Advancement (ASA) Bhopal based NGO working on food and livelihood security of smallholders, a Board Member of the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences, a Delhi-based Think Tank, and Member of the Steering Committee on Agriculture for Food Security Agenda 2030 (AgriFoSe2030), Stockholm. She holds a Ph.D. in Development Economics from Cornell University.