INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT (IFAD) AT EAT

5 ways farmers in developing countries can boost global sustainability

Published June 13, 2016

Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and a speaker at the 2016 EAT Stockholm Food Forum, explains why investing in small-scale farmers and rural development can improve global food production and safeguard the environment.

What happens when the opportunities of rural people are crushed? They migrate. Europe is in the middle of a migrant crisis and the continent is struggling to cope. Not all of the migrants and refugees are from conflict-affected countries. Thousands are from Senegal, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire. They are not fleeing war. They are economic migrants, running away from inequality, unemployment and indignity.

Empowerment: a global priority
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an UN agency combating rural hunger and poverty in developing countries. The Rome-based agency uses a mix of low-interest loans and grants to support agricultural and rural development programmes and projects, and has granted or lent nearly $13 billion to date.

Their message is clear: invest in the world’s 500 million small-scale farmers that produce over 80 per cent of the food in developing countries and you will reap benefits on a global level.

”Make no mistake, empowering rural people to create their own prosperity is an urgent global priority. Because if we don’t it’s a problem that is going to get even worse. In Africa today 60 per cent of the population is younger than 25; the majority live in rural areas; many  are young women and girls,” IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze said in his speech at the 2016 EAT Stockholm Food Forum.

«Small farmers everywhere are battling to be profitable. Yet they are our champions in the fight to improve nutrition and counter environmental degradation» Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development

Five obstacles turned opportunities

Nwanze, a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Food Security since 2010, listed 5 obstacles that can be turned into opportunities for struggling rural areas in developing countries:

“Small farmers everywhere are battling to be profitable. Yet they are our champions in the fight to improve nutrition and counter environmental degradation. If we equip them properly, they will help us to feed the world with healthy food, from a healthy planet,” Nwanze said.

1. Land rights – farmers and farm workers often lack security of tenure to the land they work and secure access to the water they need.  “If you do not have secure land rights then there is no point in investing time, effort and capital to make land more productive,” Nwanze said.

2. Access to markets to enable farmers to transport their produce to where the consumers are, at affordable cost with minimal waste – and earn a profit.

3. Better organization to give rural communities a stronger voice and improve efficiency. And in the same vein, Nwanze added, they need infrastructure such as sanitation, clean water, power, schools and roads, “People can’t work or learn if they are sick, isolated and in the dark.”

4. Access to markets and prices, techniques and technologies. “It is no exaggeration to say that the most powerful tool in the hands of a rural small producer today is the mobile phone,” Nwanze said.

5. Functional institutions, good governance, committed and visionary leadership and the rule of law. IFAD see time and time again that when smallholders have the right conditions to succeed, they can contribute to higher food production and to safeguarding the environment.