A new report released yesterday, 9 October 2017, by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that rural development has been and will continue to be essential to eradicating hunger and poverty.
The report, The State of Food and Agriculture 2017, notes that instead of finding a pathway out of poverty, poor rural Africans who migrate to cities are more likely to join the already large numbers of urban poor. Since the 1990s, poverty rates in sub-Saharan Africa have changed very little, and the absolute number of poor has increased, it adds.
Economic progress in developing countries since the 1990s has led to an increase of more than 1.6 billion in the number of people living above the moderate poverty line, the State of Food and Agriculture 2017, says. The benefits of this transformation have been very modest.
Countries with smaller shares of labour in private-wage employment such as Burkina Faso, Malawi and Sierra Leone are unlikely to reach Uganda’s current share even after ten years of significantly higher private investment in labour-intensive medium-sized and large businesses.
Under these scenarios, the largest share of the labour force would remain in agriculture or find employment in non-farm enterprises, either as a primary or secondary activity.
The report further states that, recent decades have witnessed rapid socioeconomic transformations worldwide. Structural changes to economies have boosted per capital incomes, reduced poverty and enhanced food security almost everywhere.
Despite these positive achievements, some 700 million people still live in extreme poverty, and about 815 million suffer from chronic hunger.
Unless economic growth is made more inclusive, the first two Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to end poverty and achieve zero hunger by 2030 – will not be reached.
Instead, more than 650 million people will be suffering from undernourishment. Climate change and environmental degradation the report says also poses challenge to achieve the key SDGs.
Increases in world population, which is expected to reach almost 9.8 billion by 2050, coupled with income growth, are driving higher demand for food and leading a dietary transition away from traditional.
The depletion of land, water and biodiversity, coupled with climate change, is already holding back the agricultural productivity growth needed to meet increasing food demand.
However, the report highlighted that when countries development is supported by sound policies and planning, rural towns and small cities can play a crucial role in structural and rural transformations, by strengthening rural–urban linkages, creating higher demand for goods, services and food, and generating employment that leads to poverty reduction.
By Zainab Joaque
Tuesday October 10, 2017.