Eliminating poverty will depend on tailored policies and investments to transform rural areas and not so much on overall economic growth of a country, according to the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD).
According to a global study that has been released by the IFDA, governments will need to focus on rural development to bring structural change as that is key to human development leading to alleviating poverty.
The Rural Development Report, a publication that provides analysis on rural development experiences in 60 countries, aims to provide policymakers and development practitioners data on what is working in different countries.
Speaking about the publication, Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD stated that the report marks a change in perspective. “It places the rural sector into the bigger picture of the country’s development. It demonstrates the need for a far more comprehensive and holistic approach to the economy to ensure prosperity for millions of rural people. It reinforces IFAD’s view, based on 40 years of experience, that investing in agricultural and rural development means investing in the whole economy,” Nwanze stated.
According to data in the report, currently 2.6 billion people worldwide are heavily dependent on small rural farms which produce 80 percent of food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
“We wanted to look at the changes in the daily life of people, not as an isolated and individual undertaking, but as part of the economic developments of their countries and the rural sector. We systematically looked at whether economic growth brought about poverty reduction and when increased productivity in the rural sector created more jobs and more opportunities to generate higher incomes for rural people,” stated Paul Winters, Director of Research and Impact Assessment Division at IFDA.
According to the key findings of the report, a majority of countries that have sustained a rapid transition out of poverty diversified their economies and advanced their agricultural sectors. The findings also show that creating rural jobs is now just as important as spurring growth and rural transformation is a crucial part of a nation’s economic growth.
It also states that agriculture remains vital for economic development regardless of the stage of structural transformation and recommends for leaders to expand and deepen the agriculture-based rural economy with investments in developing modern agro-industries.
Looking at regional findings, the report states that most African countries continue to wrestle with a growing youth population, small and declining manufacturing sectors, and deeply entrenched development barriers. While there has been an increase in agricultural productivity in Africa, the increases came not from advancing technology, but from bringing more land under cultivation, making it unsustainable.
“Rural transformation is not automatic. It is a choice. The choices made by governments and development practitioners have an enormous impact on the lives of people and nations,” Nwanze said.
The report concludes that policies need to be inclusive and must bring poor, and often marginalized, rural people into the economic mainstream so that rural development is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. It argues that this is the only way to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and eliminate extreme poverty and hunger.